Murphy extending protection for business tenancies

Date published: 19 June 2020

Finance Minister Conor Murphy is extending emergency provision for tenants having difficulty paying rent on commercial leases as a result of the pandemic.

The special provision in the Coronavirus Act 2020 which initially applied until 30 June is being extended until 30 September 2020.

Making the announcement, Conor Murphy said: “The economic recovery is only getting underway. That is why I am extending protections for a further three months for businesses unable to pay rent.”

A new voluntary Code of Practice for landlords and tenants has today been published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. The Code encourages tenants to continue to pay their rent in full if they can, while acknowledging that landlords should provide support to businesses in difficulty.

Commenting on the Code of Practice, Conor Murphy said: “I understand the financial pressure on landlords where rent is outstanding; however, I would again appeal for leniency to be shown to businesses in difficulty. I welcome publication of this new Code of Practice which seeks to promote good practice between tenants and landlords, working together to get through this pandemic.”

Notes to editors: 

1.       The Department of Finance inserted a special provision into the Coronavirus Act. That special provision applies during the period from 25 March 2020 to 30 June 2020.

2.       The temporary protection applies to all business tenancies within the meaning of the Business Tenancies (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 and to any tenancy to which the Order would apply if any relevant occupier were the tenant.

3.    Section 83 that enabled this protection, is part of the Coronavirus Bill 2020 and provides protection from forfeiture.

4.    This section established that where non-payment of rent enables a landlord to treat a lease as forfeited, that right cannot be exercised for a relevant period. The relevant period commenced on the date on which the Coronavirus (Act) obtained Royal Assent (25th March 2020) and will end on 30th June 2020.

5.    However, the Department of Finance is now exercising its powers within the Act to extend the relevant period to 30 September by way of a Statutory Rule in the NI Assembly.

6.    England & Wales is extending its protection for a similar period.

7.    The Code of Practice published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is available at:

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