Finance Minister Conor Murphy is encouraging business landlords and tenants to work together to resolve any outstanding disputes over rent payments.
The call comes as the extended emergency protection from eviction for business tenants is due to end on 25th March 2022. The special provision in the Coronavirus Act 2020, which was first applied at the end of March 2020, gave a total of 24 months special protection, in line with England and Wales.
Minister Murphy urged landlords and tenants to look at resolution options as businesses continue their recovery: "Landlords and tenants should keep working together to meet their legal obligations and resolve any rent arrears which may have built up during the pandemic. During the moratorium, we have provided stability and protection for businesses as they continue to recover during this challenging time.
"The two year moratorium provided time for landlords and tenants to work together to resolve any non-payment of rent. I urge landlords and tenants in dispute to seek third party advice and start the mediation process to ensure plans are in place before 25th March."
There are a number of mediation and dispute resolution options available to businesses and landlords to guide them through this process.
John Fletcher, Director of Dispute Resolution at Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), said: "The protection from lease forfeiture will expire on 25th March and businesses here now have a number of weeks in which to prepare. The Commercial Rental Independent Evaluation Service (CRIES) offered by RICS draws on extensive professional experience handling negotiations between landlords and tenants to provide an independent and efficient solution for local businesses. By acting in the public interest, RICS professionals can support tenants and landlords to keep trading, retain important relationships and avoid the cost and delay of court action."