Victorian Government announces further extension to COVID-19 rent relief provisions
The State Government has announced that the protections for commercial tenants in place under the COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) Act 2020 and the COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures)(Commercial Leases and Licences) Regulations 2020 (the COVID Rent Relief Measures) which were due to expire on 31 December have been further extended to 28 March 2021. The regulations implementing the extension were gazetted on 22 December 2020.
The fundamental elements of the COVID Rent Relief Measures which have applied since the extension from 29 September 2020 to 31 December 2020 will remain the same, except that the right for a tenant to claim rent relief has now been extended to 28 March 2021.
Because of the provision in the COVID Rent Relief Measures which provides that any entitlement to rent relief only applies from the date that an application for rent relief is made, tenants seeking further rent relief for the period from 1 January 2021 to 28 March 2021 will need to make a further application for rent relief for that period. If a tenant wants the rent relief to apply from 1 January 2021, the application will need to be made to the landlord before 1 January 2021.
The following provisions of the COVID Rent Relief Measures will continue to apply to any application for rent relief for the period from 1 January 2021 to 28 March 2021:
- a lease still needs to be in place on 29 March 2020 for the extension of the COVID Rent Relief Measures to apply. The COVID Rent Relief Measures do not apply to any lease entered into after 29 March 2020;
- the tenant must make a new application for rent relief for the period post 31 December 2020, and comply with the requirements to provide additional information in support of a rent relief application which were introduced when the COVID Rent Relief Measures were extended from 29 September 2020 to 31 December 2020;
- the requirement for a tenant to have an annual aggregate turnover of less than $50 million and qualify for the Jobkeeper scheme will continue to apply;
- the moratorium on terminating leases for non-payment of rent where the tenant has made an application for rent relief is extended to 28 March 2021;
- the restriction on rent increases (unless agreed to by the tenant) will continue until 28 March 2021;
- a landlord must not make any request for payment of any part of deferred rent until 28 March 2021;
- the existing process for an application for rent relief will continue to apply, including the requirement for a landlord to provide rent relief at a minimum that is in proportion to the tenant’s decline in turnover, with at least 50% of any rent relief being by way of a rent waiver;
- a tenant can make an application for rent relief for the period from 1 January 2021 to 28 March 2021 even though the tenant has not made a previous application for rent relief in accordance with the existing COVID Rent Relief Measures.
If we can assist you in understanding your rights and obligations under your existing leases and licences under the COVID Rent Relief Measures, the potential impacts arising from the extension to the COVID Rent Relief Measures, or for any further questions, please contact a member of our Property Team.
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