The Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill is currently making its way through parliament which will give local authorities the power to grant commercial tenancies to vacant high street and town centre locations.
The purpose of the bill is to help regenerate the high street, thus improving the local economy.
A vacant premise will need to meet two sets of criteria before local authorities can intervene.
Vacancy condition – the premises has to have been unoccupied for a whole year or 366 days within a two-year period. The days prior to the bill coming into force will count as days of non-occupation.
The local benefit condition – the premise would be beneficial to the local economy, society or the environment. Qualifying properties will need to be within a close proximity to a high street or town centre where there is a high footfall of people visiting the area. These properties include: –
A list is set to be published which will identify designated high street and town centre locations which fall within the bill’s jurisdiction.
Local Authorities will be given powers to compel landlords to provide information about any qualifying premise and to provide details of: –
In addition, Local Authorities can enter and survey qualifying premises.
Once a vacant property has qualified, local authorities will send an initial lettings notice informing the landlord that their property meets the criteria. If there are no changes in circumstances and the property remains vacant, a final lettings notice will be served eight weeks later. The final lettings notice expires four weeks from the date it took effect, once this time has passed, rental auctions can begin.
If a landlord has a vacant property which qualifies for the bill, they risk losing control over the type of tenant and the terms on which occupation is regulated.
In advance of the bill taking effect, landlords should review their current leasing arrangements. If qualifying premises are currently let, landlords should ensure a long enough lease is in place both on grant and in anticipation of any lease renewal, to avoid the qualifying premises becoming vacant and falling into the ambit of the bill.
Pinney Talfourd are experts in commercial property law and can advise you on changes to the law so you are given up to date advice. Please do not hesitate to contact Julien Pritchard on 01277 211 755 should you wish to discuss anything further.
The above is meant to be only advice and is correct as of the time of posting. This article was written by Inderdeep Kanda, Solicitor in the Commercial Property team at Pinney Talfourd LLP Solicitors. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of January 2023.