The UK government has introduced a rule to safeguard high street shops and other companies under strain from aggressive rent collection by the landlords during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The announcement has been welcomed by trade body UKHospitality as tenants including bars and restaurants, which are currently shut, have no revenue to fund rent payments to landlords.

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “This is a very helpful and pragmatic response from the Secretary of State and will give hospitality businesses some very valuable breathing room. UKH has pushed the Government to provide extra protection for businesses, so it is good to see positive action.

“Many businesses in our sector have no revenue whatsoever coming in, so paying rents has been out of the question for a significant number.  This is likely to be the case for the rest of the year and further government action is required to address this for the next nine months.

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“This extra space will allow businesses to survive and to find a way to work with landlords. If social distancing measures are to be in place for some time, as we now believe they will, this measure must be extended to ensure that businesses can survive. Cancellation of existing sanctions is also very welcome.”

Under the rule, high street shops and other companies have been asked to pay what they can to the landlord during these challenging times.

The legislation will be in force until 30 June and could be extended in line with the moratorium on commercial lease forfeiture.

Additionally, the UK government is laying secondary legislation to provide tenants with more breathing space to pay rent during the Covid-19 pandemic by preventing landlords using Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (CRAR) unless they are owed 90 days of unpaid rent.

The Business Secretary Alok Sharma made the announcement.

Sharma said: “In this exceptional time for the UK, it is vital that we ensure businesses are kept afloat so that they can continue to provide the jobs our economy needs beyond the coronavirus pandemic.”