New Years’ relief granted to tenants impacted by COVID-19

Corporate & Commercial 6 January 2021

The commercial tenancy relief scheme in Victoria has been further extended for eligible tenants to 28 March 2021.  The changes to the COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) (Commercial Leases and Licences) Regulations 2020 (Regulations) mean that the Regulations which were due to cease on 31 December 2020, have now been extended to 28 March 2021.

What does the extension to 28 March 2021 apply to?

The extension to the Regulations effectively change the expiry date of the Regulations to 28 March 2021, without any other substantial changes being made to the Regulations.

For eligible tenants, this means the following protections will apply until 28 March 2021:

1. further rent relief can be requested from a landlord in accordance with the Regulations;

2. deferred rent repayment dates are automatically extended to after 28 March 2021;

3. landlords will be prevented from evicting tenants for non-payment of rent and outgoings; and

4. landlords are prohibited from applying rental increases.

Does this mean rent relief is automatically extended to 28 March 2021?

The Regulations do not automatically extend agreements in place between landlords and tenants for rent relief.

Tenants must once again make an application to a landlord requesting that rent relief be granted up to 28 March 2021 and providing all information required in support of the application in accordance with the Regulations.  If all requirements of the Regulations are met, a landlord must grant further rent relief from the date the application is made until 28 March 2021.

Tenants who are eligible tenants under the Regulations should make an application to their landlord as a matter of priority and ensure that they provide all information in support of the application as required by the Regulations.   Our earlier article which details the requirements when making an application for rent relief can be found here.

Are all tenants who were previously eligible tenants able to seek further rent relief?

To make an application for further rent relief, a tenant must be an eligible tenant at the time of making the application.  Some tenants whose businesses have improved in recent months may no longer meet the eligibility requirements of the Regulations, namely that the tenant is a participant in JobKeeper.  If a tenant is no longer eligible for JobKeeper, a landlord will not be required under the Regulations to provide rent relief up to 28 March 2021, however landlords and tenants may enter into negotiations and reach any agreement they deem appropriate in relation to rent relief.

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If you require further advice in relation to your rights and obligations regarding rent relief or require assistance documenting an agreement reached for rent relief, please contact our Corporate & Commercial team.

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