We might only be a few weeks into 2021, but let’s state the blatantly obvious…

When encountering default loans, lenders continue to face a truly unprecedented set of circumstances.

What’s more, it looks certain that this status quo will continue for some time to come.

On January 8, the government announced that the ban on the enforcement of evictions – which was due to end less than 72 hours later – was going to be extended by an additional six weeks.

Consequently, the ban on bailiff evictions for the vast majority of cases is now extended until February 21, at the earliest.

Since the pandemic commenced, I’ve written extensively in FIBA Advantage about the many ways CG&Co is working on behalf of our clients to ensure default loans are consistently repaid both fully and promptly.

And – by adopting a truly proactive approach to Property Receivership – we continue to have great success.

Nonetheless, I also believe that it’s becoming equally essential that we now start planning for life after the pandemic.

For this reason, I was delighted to be invited to speak at the 2021 FIBA Annual Conference recently.

A carefully chosen panel of experts was asked for its opinion on the repurposing of buildings in UK town and city centres – and what they believe the most significant developments will be.

Pertinently, the panel was asked whether it believes that the increased use of technology will wane in the wake of coronavirus and whether this, in turn, will result in office space becoming fully utilised once again.

My personal view is that rental values are going to suffer some deflation in the short to medium-term as supply continues to exceed demand.

Additionally, technology has completely changed the way that people work within the majority of organisations and this, in turn, will undoubtedly lead to those employers capitalising on tangible cost savings linked to office space.

In other words, businesses will rent less space while simultaneously utilising the space they do take far more efficiently. The pandemic has dramatically increased this pace of change.

Increasingly, lenders will need to bear this in mind as part of their due diligence.

Separately, the panel was also asked for its view on whether towns and cities are ready for the wholesale change of use of many office buildings.

To my mind, we won’t be able to predict the answer to this with any accuracy until we have a better understanding of the “new normal” that exists post-pandemic.

But the size of the residential properties that become available in the future will need to accommodate the likely demands for larger living space – rather than simply maximising the number of smaller units in a development, which has historically been the case.

Once again, lenders should be mindful of this.

To conclude, we continue to live through truly uncharted times.

But whatever shape the “new normal” takes in 2021, lenders must always adopt the most proactive approach possible to Receivership. There’s too much at stake by not doing so.

And the support of the most knowledgeable team of Property Receivers has never been more imperative.