A new service has been launched to help landlords and tenants negotiate payments during Covid-19.
The Commercial Rental Independent Evaluation Service has been launched by RICS – the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.
The service is designed to ensure a clear, balanced dialogue between landlord and tenant, including an incisive analysis of the tenant’s grounds for non-payment and the landlord’s prerequisites for making concessions.
It comes in response to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s recently launched Code of Practice for commercial property relationships during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Code of Practice contains recommendations that landlords and tenants use a third-party mediator to help with any payment negotiations during this difficult period of time.
To ensure the new service would help all parties involved, RICS consulted widely across the sector. Following the consultation, the RICS product aims to alleviate the pressure on both tenants and landlords and:
- Give tenants a ‘safe space’ to articulate their difficulties and have landlords recognise them
- Ensure landlords have a rigorous dispute resolution process to ensure all parties can maintain a positive working relationship post-Covid.
As part of the process, the Commercial Rental Independent Evaluation Service rules provide a tight timetable and clear structure for evidence to be presented and examined by an RICS appointed independent evaluator.
The service also sets out a clear and affordable schedule of fees, for both small and large properties, ensuring the costs are matched to the size of the dispute.
Evaluators also and aim to provide a resolution within 28 days.
Dr John Fletcher, RICS director of dispute resolution said: “We hope that this service will contribute to the recovery of a fully functioning commercial market as the sector navigates this difficult time period, and will provide landlords and tenants with the inclusive and safe space they need to work out how to resolve any disputes.
“RICS recognises that parties need a safe, unbiased pair of hands, appointed and overseen by a manifestly independent institution to guide them through these unprecedented times, As a provider of dispute resolution services in the commercial sector for nearly forty-five years, our panellists include the most experienced practitioners in the market, who can help restore confidence.”
Andrew Kilpatrick (pictured) of Swindon-based commercial property consultancy Kilpatrick & Co, who is one of the RICS president’s panel of dispute resolvers, said: “In these difficult times, an impartial mediator may help to facilitate agreement between landlords and tenants.
"The introduction of RICS’ Commercial Rental Independent Evaluation Service aims to resolve these outstanding disputes in a cost-effective and timely manner, which will hopefully help to maintain cordial landlord and tenant relationships and keep more businesses open and trading."