Commercial landlords call for quid pro quo



Commercial landlords should be excused from paying rates for empty properties during the coronavirus, says the Scottish Property Federation.

The industry body made the call after the Scottish Government ordered property owners to cut residential tenants some slack when they are unable to pay rent.

Landlords will have to give tenants six months notice to vacate under new legislation aimed at providing security for people who lose their income due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

The legislation at Holyrood supplements the emergency Coronavirus Bill passed at Westminsters which means no business will be forced out of their premises if they miss a rent payment in the next three months.

SPF chair Robin Blacklock said members were willing to help residential and business tenants through the crisis but insisted the sector in turn needed support when left unable to let commercial properties.

He said: “We are encouraging all members to put the welfare of the nation at the forefront of all decisions, and we are recommending landlords take a pragmatic approach where possible.

“We believe that setting a level playing field for deferring commercial rental payments and any irritancy proceedings is sensible in the current circumstances.

“Leading members have already been supporting tenants to manage rental obligations as the economy adapts to the restrictions on population movements, and as residents and businesses struggle with financial obligations through no fault of their own.

“However, we must also recognise that landlords are businesses and employers that depend on cash-flow to stay in operation and maintain jobs.

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“Many commercial property owners in Scotland will also have significant responsibilities to their investors including pension funds.

“Landlords also need to be supported and should not be penalised with empty property rates charges for vacant premises that they cannot re-let during this crisis.”

The Holyood Bill is to expire on September 30 this year but MSPs have the option to extend it for two six-month periods if necessary to tackle the pandemic.



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