Movement restrictions were introduced two days before the Lady Day quarter on the 25th of March 2020.
Lady Day is the most favourably named of the quarter days, that otherwise herald the gloom of rent payment and the anxiety of rent receipt. It is named after the medieval beginning of the legal year in England and the celebration of the Annunciation. However, it makes us yearn for Gil Scott-Heron’s tribute to John Coltrane, but we digress.
The timing of the restrictions caused additional stress for landlords and tenants of commercial business property – too late for tenants to halt the quarters rent payment as they concentrated on mothballing their businesses and dealing with staff and stock – while landlords were left to balance an unpredictable income stream against their own fixed outgoings. Communication was not necessarily the first order of Lady Day.
In the first working week of these restrictions, Renshaw Chartered Surveyors contacted their landlord and tenant clients to discuss the occupational issues that arose from the forced closure of tenant businesses and, over the following two weeks, advised on over twenty leases, to settle the terms of rent relief for tenants.
While there was a strong business case for landlords to support tenants over this period, it was the moral case that impressed us here at Renshaw Chartered Surveyors. By far, the majority of landlords that we dealt with took the view that they had a responsibility to share the economic burden that Covid-19 created as well as a sound business case, and many articulated this directly – which paints a picture that is not the portrait most people have in mind for the typical commercial landlord.
We are pleased to have been part of this positive approach and, for our small part, did not raise charges for the consultancy provided and negotiations undertaken.
In a property market that was already beset with changes, from the structural decline of the high street following the ongoing change in consumer shopping habits, to the wider uncertainty created by the three years of Brexit campaigning, it may have been a health pandemic that reconciled the sometimes irreconcilable – the landlord and tenant.
As Gil Scott Heron put it: call on Lady Day (and John Coltrane) to wash your troubles away.