Back in May 2022, the Government introduced the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill (the “Bill”) in Parliament, which, amongst other things, provided for the implementation of 'high street rental auctions'.

Essentially, under the Bill, local authorities would be empowered to put vacant high street properties into rental auctions, without landlords' consent. Short-medium term leases would then be granted to the 'highest bidders'.

Needless to say, the proposals are highly controversial. Industry groups have dismissed them as 'political gimmicks' and much ink has already been spilled on how the provisions in the Bill are unlikely to achieve the Government's objective, i.e. the renewal and regeneration of high streets and town centres.

We have produced a summary of the key provisions in the Bill, as introduced, which can be accessed here.

Now, the Government is consulting on some of the practical issues that the proposals give rise to, such as:

  1. How the auctions should be run (including the method by which successful bidders should be chosen);
  2. The allocation of the costs of any works that are required to the premises to bring it up to a lettable standard;
  3. Standardised terms for leases that are granted pursuant to the auction process; and
  4. The legal interface between high street rental auctions, Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards, and Permitted Development Rights.

Given that the consultation is not asking for views on whether high street rental auctions are, in principle, a good idea, landlords will undoubtedly be disappointed. 

However, the consultation does provide an opportunity for affected stakeholders to seek to shape aspects of the Government's proposals that were previously unclear due to an absence of detail.

The consultation period commenced on 31 March 2020 and will end on 23 June 2023. Anyone wishing to submit a response can do so here.