29 April 2022

Forced rent auctions: What property and the government need to know about how this will (and won’t) work – Andrew Denye talks to Bisnow

Last week, the Government suggested a new plan to rejuvenate the UK’s high streets and tackle the growing issue of empty retail properties: If one such property has stood empty for more than six months, the local authority could force the owner to rent it out.

This idea has been met with scepticism by industry experts, both in reference to its function and its intended effects.

Regarding the key component that local authorities would have the power to upend centuries of private property rights, and the notion of landlords’ autonomy over their own property, Head of Retail, Andrew Denye summarises:

“You are almost saying the local authority would need to have some sort of compulsory purchase order power, but without purchasing the property. If, as being suggested, the landlord is effectively being forced to lease out their property, unless you are talking about changing landlord tenant law, the landlord will still have to enter into some sort of contract or agreement, unless you are taking ownership away from them.”

Andrew shares the view among industry experts that the proposal has an air of political short-termism.

He said: “I keep coming back to this idea of levelling up. For those areas that do need levelling up, I’m not sure they will get anything from this because there isn’t the demand for retail premises in these areas – it doesn’t change the fact that there is just too much retail.”

This article was first published on 27th April 2022 in Bisnow, available here, behind their paywall.

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