Murphy extends protection for business tenancies

Date published: 01 October 2020

Finance Minister Conor Murphy has extended an emergency provision for tenants by a further three months in order to protect businesses at this difficult time.

Covid-19 update

The move, which extends the special provisions of the Coronavirus Act 2020, means business tenants here are now protected from the threat of eviction because of non-payment of rent until 31 December 2020.

Minister Murphy explained: “Covid-19 continues to have a massive impact on our economy and I want to do all I can to support businesses through to recovery. This emergency provision was in place until the end of September; however, given the continued challenges arising from the pandemic I am extending again the emergency provision for a further three months.

“I recognise the pressure on landlords too, and so I would again continue to encourage landlords and tenants to work together – tenants should continue to meet their legal obligations and pay their rent in full if they can.  However, where this is not possible landlords will I hope show leniency to those businesses in difficulty at this time.”

Notes to editors: 

1.       The Department of Finance inserted a special provision into the Coronavirus Act. That special provision originally applied during the period from 25 March 2020 to 30 June 2020 and has been extended for the second time, now until 31 December 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 was originally due to end on 30th June 2020.

5.    However, the Department of Finance exercised its powers within the Act to extend the relevant period to 30 September by way of a Statutory Rule in the NI Assembly and has done so again for a further three months, now until 31 December 2020.

6.    England & Wales have both extended protection until 31 December 2020.

7.    A Code of Practice published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is available here.

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