Commercial landlords to be forced to let out properties

The government will unveil legislation punishing commercial landlords who leave high street shops empty for over a year in today’s Queen’s speech.

Councils will be given new powers to hold compulsory rental auctions, enabling councils to buy up properties with a view to letting them out to businesses.

The “Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill” will also allow pubs and restaurants to use pavements for al fresco dining permanently, in a bid to liven up the high street.

Prime Minister, Boris Johnson said: “High streets up and down the country have long been blighted by derelict shopfronts, because they’ve been neglected, stripping opportunity from local areas.

“We are putting that right by placing power back in the hands of local leaders and the community so our towns can be rejuvenated, levelling up opportunity and restoring neighbourhood pride.”

While some sectors of the industry have responded positively to the plans, the British Property Federation has labelled compulsory auctions a “political gimmick”, saying the real reasons for boarded up properties are the burden of business rates and other occupational costs.

One in seven high street shops are currently left empty, according to the British Retail Consortium.

Housing Secretary Michael Gove said: “By empowering local communities to rent out shops which have been sat empty for a year or longer, we will end the scourge of boarded up shops that have blighted some of our great towns across the country for far too long.

“These measures will breathe new life into high streets, transforming once-bustling communities into vibrant places to live and work once again and restoring local pride as we level up across the country.”

Comments 1

  1. The title says” Commercial landlords to be forced to let out homes”. I think the word you are looking for is “shops” not “homes”.
    The British Property Federation opinion that this is all a “political gimmick” seems correct to me. Shops are empty and boarded up because for a combination of reasons it is just not possible to run a viable business from them anymore. Landlords would love to let them out rather than leave them empty and deteriorating and I am sure they would take a view on the rents but the truth is there are no takers at any price.
    The implication is that many of these empty properties are owned by absentee landlords while in fact many will be owned by Councils (which is what I assume Micheal Gove means by “local communities”) already. Why would they want to buy up anymore white elephants? Many empty shops are in a poor state and need thousands to be spent on new shopfronts and other refurbishments to be attractive to tenants. Who is going to pay to renovate them?
    As an experiment to prove the concept I would challenge local Councils to take perhaps a couple of their own run down empty shops, refurbish them with attractive shop fronts and see if they can actually attract paying tenants into them with realistic rent and rates. If it works, then they can look at acquiring more empty shops to renovate and bring back into service.

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