1. Business Rates
The Government have introduced a package of measures under the Expanded Retail Discount scheme. This provides both rates relief and potential grant assistance to occupiers who fall into Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Sectors. The relief should be awarded automatically where recipients are obvious and the council have an obligation to review ratepayers and award it automatically. We have had extensive success including properties in this scheme which the local council initially didn’t think should apply. If you’re not an automatic recipient then we’re happy to discuss whether your use could/should be covered as receiving this on properties up to £51,000 RV opens up a package of grant assistance capped at €800,000. There are further options to minimise liability where you have vacant or part vacant space as well as the potential for long term savings. You can find more information in our Guide to Business Rates in Exceptional Times. Recipients of Small Business Rates Relief can claim grants of £10,000 per property, whilst recipients of Expanded Retail Discount can access the Retail Hospitality & Leisure Grant scheme, which provides a £10,000 grant for properties with an RV of up £15,000 or £25,000 for properties with an RV of £15,001 to £50,999.
COVID19 has created a Material Change in Circumstances (MCC) and we are raising checks to reduce or remove liability from 23 March 2020 seeking long term rateable value reductions. Speak to use to get a bespoke strategy for your property or portfolio.
Probably the largest property outgoing after staff costs will be your rent. We’re aware that many occupiers decided not to pay rent on the March 2020 quarter day but landlords are still chasing payment. This will ultimately lead to enforcement action and whilst the government have put a halt on evictions for three months, non-payment of rent causes conflict, will potentially incur costs and could prevent lease breaks being exercised. It’s worth bearing in mind that some landlords are actively engaging in discussions but agreeing inflated rents and other measures which we believe are excessively one sided. Whether you occupy a property portfolio or individual property then there is scope to re-gear the lease or agree a rent holiday to be repaid at a later date. We have a number of cost effective tactics to improve your cash flow through these difficult times. Starting these discussions early is strongly advised.
3. Lease end dilapidations and breaks
Where you have leases expiries or breaks coming up you should bear in mind that the timescales for both assessment of works required and remediation work is likely to take much longer than normal. Further lockdown measures could restrict the ability to get works done in time and any potential issues should be considered and a strategy agreed in a timely manner to avoid surprises. Our building surveyors are still inspecting on essential jobs.
4. Other considerations
Check your insurance requirements on empty sites, many insurers have standard terms of 30 days maximum empty period. Changes to prevent evictions for the non-payment of rent have had unintended consequences as illegal occupiers such as squatters and travellers are now benefiting from extended protection.