Rent relief extended for commercial tenants in Victoria

Rent relief extended for commercial tenants in Victoria

Victoria recorded 11,311 new COVID cases and 34 deaths on Monday, as the state government introduced new regulations under the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme to support struggling small and family businesses.

The regulations follow the Victorian governments’ decision in January to extend the rent relief scheme for two months until 15 March.

Businesses with a turnover of $10 million or less and have suffered a decline in turnover of at least 30 per cent due to COVID will be eligible for support.  

Under the scheme, landlords must provide proportional rent relief to commercial tenants in line with any reduction of turnover against pre-pandemic levels.

For example, a business whose turnover in January 2022 is 40 per cent less than in January 2020 can only be charged 40 per cent of its rent.

Of the balance, at least half the rent must be waived, with the remainder deferred. The freeze on rent increases will continue.

“Small and family businesses are going through a challenging period due to the Omicron wave and that’s why we are extending the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme,” Minister for Small Business Jaala Pulford said.

“The new regulations will help to ease the financial burden for many small and family businesses that are facing hardship caused by the pandemic.

“I would like to acknowledge and thank those commercial landlords who continue to do the right thing by their tenants during such challenging times.”

Eligible commercial landlords will continue to receive support from the Victorian Government, with more details on a new round of the Commercial Landlord Hardship Fund to be announced shortly.

The expectation remains for landlords and tenants to negotiate in good faith with the Victorian Small Business Commission (VSBC) in place to offer free mediation if required.

The Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme was first launched in 2020, before it was reintroduced in July 2021, and has provided financial relief and rent protections for thousands of Victorian businesses.

Newer businesses that weren’t operating in 2020 will also be protected, with special arrangements to calculate their turnover impacts.

The VSBC advises struggling businesses to pay as much rent as they can afford while contacting an accountant, business adviser, or mentor for advice and potentially negotiating a new rental agreement.   

Tenants can apply to the VSBC for a binding order for rent relief if their landlord fails to respond or sufficiently respond to the VSBC or doesn’t engage in mediation in good faith.

Full details of the scheme, including eligibility, are available on the VSBC’s website. Tenants and landlords can contact the VSBC for further information on 13 87 22 or visit vsbc.vic.gov.au

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