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At my shopping mall in England and nearby malls, many shopfronts have been closed for at least one year, but don't advertise "FOR LEASE". Normally, these shopfronts advertise "FOR LEASE" like this picture.

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Many of the gossipy proprietors in these malls prattle that these shopfronts lack "FOR LEASE" because the Landlords brought lawsuits against these former Tenants — because these Tenants can't pay the lease because of COVID, and some just abandoned their lease, skedaddled, and flew the coop. These babblers schmooze that the Landlord can't lease out any premise that's being litigated. 1. Are these windbags correct?

Presume that a Premise was leased out, but it has absolutely good, clean, tenantable condition. And the Landlord is itching to lease it out to a new Tenant. 2. What other legal reasons would forbid the Landlord from leasing it out?

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Yes, it’s correct

In normal circumstances, non-payment of rent would allow a commercial landlord to seek court orders evicting the tenant. This would end the lease and allow the landlord to install a new tenant. Until the eviction is finalised, the premises is the tenant’s property under the lease and the landlord would be in breach of contract if they took possession of it. This is true even if the tenant has stopped paying rent or “skedaddled”.

However, there is government moratorium on commercial evictions until March 2022. So landlords cannot go to court to seek an eviction until 26 March next year. Legislation is still evolving but it seems likely that non-payment of rent during the moratorium is not going to be a breach of the contract - the intention is that landlords and tenants will negotiate write-offs and repayment schedules.

A landlord and a tenant could agree to terminate the lease early and allow the property to be re-let but, at present, landlords cannot force that outcome.

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