French rental association DLR said today that rental customers cannot invoke force majeure to cancel rental contracts and should instead seek “balanced” agreements with their rental suppliers.

”It is essential to make our partners understand that the crisis will come to an end and that it is in their interest that our businesses are still there at the end of this crisis”, said DLR, ”That implies finding, in good faith, balanced agreements in the common interests of clients and rental companies”.

With containment measures likely to last at least until 11 May, 2020, the organisation fears there will be many more requests for suspension or even termination of rental contracts. 

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Multiple rental companies received contract suspension orders from their customers on 17 March, the day after the start of lockdown measures in France.

The association does not dispute that Covid-19 was unforeseeable, but said it was not inevitable that every construction site needed to immediately close.

“No decree, no regulation prohibited the continuation of public works sites. On the contrary, the government encouraged companies to maintain their activity”, said DLR, “Cessation of activity is therefore a company’s decision, the consequences of which it must assume, in particular in terms of a fall in its turnover, without transferring them to its co-contracting partners.

It added that since early April it has not been possible for companies to claim that they needed to stop work because they were unable to ensure the protection of their employees, in particular because of a lack of masks.

DLR said contractors, at most, could invoke unforeseen circumstances in order to renegotiate contracts. 

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