The Coronavirus pandemic has seen several cases where landlords have been unable to recover arrears in respect of their properties and tenants have similarly been unable to pay their rent due to the changing landscape and COVID-19 restrictions.

There have been several cases this year which involved a tenant’s defence to a landlord’s summary judgment application failing. One of the landmark cases in this area is London Trocadero (2015) LLP v Picturehouse Cinemas Ltd and others [2021] EWHC 2591 (Ch). The tenant, cinema chain Picurehouse held two leases of a cinema premises in London (the Trocadero Centre). During the Coronavirus pandemic, Government regulations meant that the cinema was required to close for certain periods (as with other businesses, especially those involving entertainment). During those periods, as Picturehouse was unable to trade, when the Government regulations started to relax, the cinema remained largely closed and it therefore did not have similar turnover to previous years for example. Picturehouse had not paid any rent since June 2020 and argued that as they rented the premises to be used for the purposes of a cinema, it would be “uncommercial” for them to be expected to pay rent for periods whereby the cinema was not allowed to open and be used for its main purpose. However, the landlord, London Trocadero, applied for summary judgment for the sum of £2.9 million, in respect of rent arrears and unpaid service charges.

This case is particularly important because it can be viewed alongside the other cases whereby tenants’ arguments to avoid paying rent as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic has failed. This is the third case this year with the same outcome by the Courts.

If you are a landlord and have any outstanding arrears that you wish to recover, please do not hesitate to contact our Dispute Resolution department for expert guidance and sound legal advice.

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