Further relief for commercial tenants struggling with rent payments in Victoria is on its way after the State Government finalised new regulations as part of the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme.
The Scheme will help small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) with an annual turnover of less than $50 million that have experienced a loss in turnover of more than 30 per cent during the pandemic.
Eligibility for rent relief has also been broadened, with tenants now able to choose three consecutive months between 1 April and 30 September 2021 to compare to their turnover in the same three months in 2019.
Eligible SMEs will get financial relief in the form of a proportionate reduction in rent. For example, a business with a turnover of 40 per cent of pre-pandemic levels can only be charged 40 per cent of its rent. Of the balance, at least half must be waived, with the remainder to be deferred.
The Victorian Small Business Commissioner will support tenants and landlords with information to negotiate an agreement and free mediation for those who need assistance.
The scheme will apply retrospectively from 28 July 2021 and will run until 15 January 2022.
Landlords found to be doing the right thing by tenants will not be left out in the cold either; land tax relief of up to 25 per cent will be provided by the Victorian Government, in addition to any previous relief, with the support worth up to $100 million.
Further, small landlords who can demonstrate acute hardship will be eligible to apply for payments as part of a $20 million hardship fund.
“We know businesses are doing it tough – that’s why it’s important that we continue to back them with practical measures, including rent relief,” Victorian Minister for Small Business Jaala Pulford said.
“We want everyone to get a fair outcome – the Victorian Small Business Commission will provide free support to businesses to help them negotiate an agreement with landlords, if they’re unable to reach agreement themselves.”
Further information about the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme can be found at vsbc.vic.gov.au.
Updated at 2.27pm AEST on 25 August 2021.
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