16/05/2020

New regulations under the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act 2020 have been made for commercial leases to protect tenants from eviction and provide greater certainty around dispute resolution and rent relief during this unprecedented crisis.

The regulations, which cover the six-month period from March 30 to September 30 this year, implement key elements of National Cabinet’s Code of Conduct.

Treasurer Rob Lucas said no affected commercial tenant can be evicted for non-payment of rent or outgoings, or for reducing their hours of business during this period.

“The government is pleased to be able to provide greater clarity and certainty for both commercial landlords and their small business tenants, who underpin our state’s economy and tens of thousands of jobs,” Mr Lucas said.

“The regulations, which passed Parliament this week, will also assist with the negotiation, mediation and resolution of disputes about issues like non-payment of rent during the greatest economic challenge of our time.

“While landlords and tenants are required to negotiate leasing arrangements in good faith, where there is a dispute, a party may seek mediation by the Small Business Commissioner. If this fails, the matter may then proceed to the Magistrates Court for a determination.

“The Magistrates Court has broad powers, including to order rent relief, the amount of which will be determined by having regard to the financial circumstances of both the landlord and the tenant."

Affected tenants are generally those with an annual turnover of up to $50m and are eligible for, or receiving, the JobKeeper wage subsidy.

The government has also provided approximately $50 m in emergency land tax relief this financial year to assist landlords and thousands of small businesses and tenants. This $50 m relief package is in addition to another $70 m in land tax cuts which will commence from 1 July this year