Over the last three months, Congress has passed major pieces of legislation primarily in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (CAA), which was signed into law on December 27, 2020. In addition to funding the federal government and a second round of pandemic relief, the CAA contains several amendments to the Bankruptcy Code. One of the amendments provides preference protection to commercial landlords and suppliers who receive overdue payments from their tenants or customers under agreements made on or after March 13, 2020 to postpone the payment of rent or supplier charges.
The preference amendments encourage these creditors to afford their customers and tenants payment deferment arrangements without the risk that the companies will clawback the payments as preferences if they later file for bankruptcy protection. The amendments should facilitate workouts of distribution and leasing agreements to help distressed businesses recover and repay arrearages as COVID-19 related governmental restrictions are lifted this year.