What happens if I need to sign a new commercial lease in the future?
The outbreak is certainly going to have an impact on new lease negotiations.
Undoubtedly many transactions will be put on hold or indeed stop entirely. Where matters are ongoing, tenants may well look to strengthen rent suspension provision.
It is also possible that tenants and their representatives will also now seek to include termination rights for unseen events. In this regard, the concept of force majeure may start to appear more often in leases.
In both of the examples above, such attempts are not likely to be well received from landlords who will undoubtedly suggest that tenants ensure that their business interruption insurance policies are robust enough to protect the tenant in the event of any future pandemic events.
Another approach tenants might adopt going forwards in negotiations for a new lease (or indeed seeking to vary existing leases), is to move away from the traditional market rent model to a turnover rent arrangement. This will offer some protection going forward if trading conditions deteriorate, but again getting institutional landlords to agree such an approach may prove difficult.
If a tenant continues to refuse to take heed of the government’s social-distancing guidelines, for example by inviting large groups of people who do not reside there to their property, it can constitute a nuisance. One housing association successfully applied for an injunction. The injunction ordered by the Court stipulated that no persons, other than the children of the tenant, are to attend the property until the current social-distancing restrictions are lifted by the government.
A representative of the housing association highlighted the need for the current guidelines to be followed and the need for housing providers to ensure that all residents living in their communities are kept safe during this time of ‘unprecedented risk’.
This case demonstrates that flouting of the current restrictions is likely to be considered anti-social in the eyes of the courts – a point which all housing providers should bear in mind during this period. Further, it highlights the availability of an alternative remedy to the issuing of possession proceedings (in light of the government’s moratorium on evictions) to deal with anti-social behaviour during the next three months, Covid-19 related or not.
You should speak to your advisors. We do not know presently how existing petitions will be dealt with by the Court. We do know that if any winding up order is made (based on a petition presented after 27 April), it could be found to be void and a creditor may face challenges. Even for petitions presented before 27th April, there is a risk that the Court will not be keen to make a winding up order so it is important that you look at the facts of your debt and weigh up all of the factors before deciding how to proceed.
Again, the primary point must be that an open dialogue is held with that individual to understand their concerns and to properly consider the impact that not wearing PPE will have on their abilities to undertake their duties. Consideration must be given as to whether there are any parts of their duties that they can undertake and whether they can remain in their role. Engage with the individual to ensure that you understand their point of view. What other duties can they do if they cannot do fulfil all the duties of their role?
This would depend on the reason as to why the employee is refusing to come into work. An unauthorised absence is where an employee fails to attend work and they do not have a statutory or contractual right, or their employer’s permission, to do so. An employer will not be obliged to pay employees their normal pay for periods of unauthorised absence.
There are some absences which may be viewed as authorised which would entitle the employee to their full pay. For instance, employees who believe that they are in serious and imminent danger by coming to work would be entitled to stay at home and receive pay if their belief is deemed reasonable.
An employer should always try to discuss any unauthorised absences with an employee. They may then consider whether to take disciplinary action against the employee.
Under their obligations arising from Regulation 36 of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, landlords must service domestic gas appliances on an annual basis and provide tenants with a record of the service within 28 days of that service. Failure to comply can result in prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or downgrading by the Regulator.
We know how important this is. But how can you comply with your obligations during the Covid-19 epidemic?
The latest restrictions on leaving the home, currently allow registered gas engineers to undertake essential work, whilst taking the appropriate precautions advised to avoid spreading or contracting the virus in a new setting.