Landlords could be forced to rent out empty shops – or lose the right at auction

Landlords who fail to rent out commercial properties could be forced to hand them over to someone else that will – under radical plans from the government.

The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill is proposing introducing ‘High Street Rental Auctions’, which would allow councils to auction the rental rights of commercial high street properties if they have been vacant for more than a year over a 24 month period.

Winning bidders would be granted a lease with the landlord of between one to five years.

The proposal is currently in a consultation period that will run until 23rd June.

The government is looking to combat empty high streets, which it says negatively impacts the economic performance of towns and cities, risks closing businesses, and forces people to move away.

In Manchester, North-East Lincolnshire, Luton, and East Staffordshire vacancy rates range from 20% to 28%.

If the commercial property needs work done to be lettable (to reach an EPC level of at least E) the responsibility would still fall on the landlord.