Commercial rent arrears recovery: changes and implementation announced

The law of distress is an ancient common law remedy for the recovery of overdue rent. Although distress does involve some quite complex rules and quirks, it can often provide landlords with a quick, cheap and easy solution: simply send in bailiffs to encourage tenants to immediately pay their rent or instead seize goods to the value of the rent outstanding.

While distraining against goods in this way has frequently proved an effective and efficient route to recovery of rent arrears, tenants have increasingly seen the process as heavy-handed and unfairly balanced in favour of landlords. Having first proposed changes to the process for recovering commercial rent arrears in the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act in 2007 (TCEA 2007), the UK government has now finally, as of 30 July 2013, published legislation to reform the process that bailiffs must follow when seizing goods to recover a debt and to set out the procedure for commercial rent arrears recovery.

The Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013 (the Regulations) were made on 26 July 2013, laid before Parliament on 30 July 2013 and will come into force on 6 April 2014. They govern the procedure for taking control of goods (note the change of terminology and emphasis from the prior vernacular, seizing goods) and selling them in the exercise of statutory powers pursuant to Part 3 and Schedule 12 TCEA 2007…

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