Could landlords go further to support restaurant / pub / nightclub tenants? Some tenants might suggest that landlords agree (either on a lease renewal or in a deed of variation to a current lease) that rent will be suspended in the event of governmental restrictions on trading.
However, this type of clause could prove tricky for landlords. An institutional landlord or a landlord who is hoping to sell their reversionary interest to institutional landlord, will be wary of such a clause. Institutional landlords are looking for a guaranteed income stream; this type of provision would fly in the face of that certainty.
This type of clause could also be a barrier to securing finance or might put the landlord in breach of their existing bank facility. Any bank would be concerned about how the landlord's debt would be serviced during a period of rent suspension. For completeness, this differs from a period of rent suspension due to the occurrence of insured damage, as that risk is mitigated by the loss of rent insurance commonly taken out by landlords.
We are therefore unlikely to see leases with a clause to suspend rent where there are governmental restrictions on trading. Instead, landlords are likely to opt to have the discretion to agree a rent suspension / postponement where they see fit. Tenants should communicate early with landlords where they anticipate difficulties paying rent due to governmental restrictions, as they have been doing in recent months.