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A difficult and challenging year we may want to forget, writes Lesley Purveur, of Larken & Co

No one would argue it has not been a difficult and challenging year for most people and businesses. A year like never before and which many might prefer to forget, writes Lesley Purveur, of Larken & Co.

With the government’s Christmas lockdown rules, allowing three households to meet indoors between December 23 and 27, but otherwise subject to the tiered system, which places most parts of the UK in tiers two and three, Christmas will be far from normal.

Lesley Purveur. (41841929)
Lesley Purveur. (41841929)

We can see this on our high streets with many more empty units. The impact that the pandemic has had on the economy, in retail and hospitality especially, over the year has been huge. Retail empires, superstores and independent retailers have fallen victim to reduced footfall, ever-changing and growing lockdown restrictions, resulting in reduced profits, and in worst cases the collapse and closure of businesses. The empty premises on our high streets are far removed from the typical festive sights we have been used to admiring.

The impact of the pandemic has affected many landlord and tenant relationships and will continue to do so as retailers struggle to meet their main operating expenses, such as rent and employee wages.

We have been able to assist landlords and tenants during this difficult period in finding a way forward with the struggles of the sector.

It helps to adopt a flexible approach and understand options, enabling disagreements to be resolved at the earliest opportunity. Landlords may consider restructuring leases and contracts to reflect market values, offering a rent holiday, or cancelling rent altogether to ease pressure.

Any changes or agreements made between parties should be documented.

This year we are likely to be having a more digital Christmas, in more ways than one. With more retailers offering online shopping we can certainly expect a big surge in demand.

Shoppers have been warned for the past couple of months to start buying early to ensure timely deliveries and the Black Friday deals are now coming thick and fast. Again, it is always important to read the small print, check out the terms and conditions and ask for clarification where necessary, and always keep a good documented trail in case any disputes should arise in relation to items. You might also consider making any purchases on a credit card for extra protection, as the digital world opens up its own challenges with more and more online fraud and cyber crime taking place.

Families may also be turning to online platforms such as Zoom to virtually meet up and celebrate over the festive period, and with many more employees working from home than ever before, 2020 could be the year of the Zoom Christmas party.

The festive season brings with it worries at the best of times but dealing with it in times of a pandemic requires even greater organisation when it comes to making plans for children of separated parents. Preparation is key, but you may also need to be prepared to be flexible as plans may need to change. 2020 has hit some families particularly hard and anyone who feels they are struggling to agree arrangements should seek immediate advice and get help in negotiating an agreement.

Court proceedings are possible but should be a last resort. The courts will prioritise matters that involve domestic abuse, and sadly 2020 has been the year where there has been a rise in such cases worldwide.

It has been a year of rules, restrictions, guidance, and keeping up with the changes coronavirus has imposed. We have learned to do things differently ­— move house safely, have wills witnessed remotely, and attend virtual court hearings.

We have been told ‘tis the season to be jolly careful’, and it is hoped the virus will be under greater control by the end of the year with the prospect of a healthier, happier and hopeful 2021.

We are here to help you, your family and your business in these difficult times. For further information please contact Larken & Co on 01636 703333.

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