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Gloucestershire Business News

Gyms call for government help amid rent fears

Gyms have become the latest business sector to call for government help due to fears they could be evicted during the coronavirus pandemic.

The government introduced new rules to protect commercial tenants last month.

But the body which represents gyms and leisure centres has called for more help with landlords still able to use a loophole to force the payment of rent withheld during the lockdown.

UKActive chief executive Huw Edwards said: "A worrying number have decided to pursue statutory demand notices or winding up orders.

"We need the Government to act now. With 2,800 gyms at risk of permanent closure and 100,000 jobs at stake, time is of the essence."

While the Coronavirus Act bans the forfeiture of commercial leases for non-payment of rent until at least June 30, it does not prevent landlords from taking actions to recover money owed.

The body, which says it has evidence of such legal proceedings likely to start this week, says the threat could close some of its members.

"Many of our members are faced with the harsh reality of no revenues for a long period, so must take steps to preserve cash, including not paying their rent for the quarter ahead," said Mr Edwards, who said some landlords have engaged in constructive discussions to reduced the pressure on tenants.

The body has called on the government to amend the Coronavirus Act to prevent landlords pursuing legal action against tenants and to reduce pressure on landlords by introducing financial support for a rent holiday.

Glenn Earlam, chief executive of David Lloyd Clubs who have a gym in Brockworth, said he hoped landlords would negotiate a way through the problem.

He said: "We want to work together with landlords to ensure we can survive this pandemic and emerge with businesses able to continue to pay rent and other costs in the future."

Many gyms froze membership payments when forced to close last month under the current government restrictions.

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