Empty shops to be put into compulsory ‘rental auctions’, announces government

The Conservativss want to introduce compulsory auctions to stop shopfronts sitting empty for more than a year

New government plans being announced today as part of the Queen’s speech will see new pressure applied to owners of high street shops left to sit vacant for more than a year.

In a bid to revive Britain’s high streets, landlords of long-empty shopfronts will be forced to enter their properties into a ‘rental auction’.

This would see a new parliamentary bill introduced, allowing councils to ‘force’ landlords to rent out empty shops, according to reports in the BBC.

Image: Jack Cohen (Unsplash)

Currently, one in seven shopfronts in Britain is empty based on calculations by the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

The Prime Minister framed the plans as putting power back in the hands of local leaders, however the British Property Federation (BPF), which represents the real estate industry, has dismissed the auctions as a ‘political gimmick’.

“High streets up and down the country have long been blighted by derelict shopfronts, because they’ve been neglected, stripping opportunity from local areas,” the prime minister said.

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“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.”

Melanie Leech, BPF chief executive, said: “We fully support government’s ambitions to revitalise town centres but political gimmicks such as compulsory rent auctions are not the solution.

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“No property owner wants their premises to be empty. In our experience, property owners are willing to do zero-rent deals to avoid boarded-up shopfronts.

“But the burden of business rates and other occupational costs mean it is still unviable for many small and independent businesses to trade from town-centre premises.”

Feature image – Geograph

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