Responding to the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, South Australia has announced it is extending protections for commercial SME tenants by a further three months, ensuring that those still trading below pre-pandemic levels get the support they need.
Existing regulations under the COVID-19 Emergency Response Amendment Act — which covered the six months from 30 March — were due to expire on 30 September this year, but will now be extended to 3 January 2021.
“These provisions continue to implement key elements of the National Mandatory Code of Conduct and seek to strike a necessary balance between the interests of both landlords and their commercial SME tenants affected by COVID-19, to ensure they have every opportunity to continue to trade,” Treasurer Rob Lucas said.
“They ensure no affected commercial SME tenant can be evicted for non-payment of rent or outgoings, or for reducing their hours of business during this period.”
Mr Lucas added that there is a facility to extend these regulations further to 28 March next year, if required.
South Australia has also decided to expand and extend its land tax relief scheme to encourage landlords to continue to provide significant rent reductions for their residential and commercial SME tenants.
Under this scheme, eligible landlords now can receive up to a 50 per cent reduction on their 2019–20 land tax liability on affected properties (up from 25 per cent), provided they pass on the full benefit in land tax relief to their impacted tenants. The land tax relief measure will also cover eligible commercial owner-occupiers, increasing the number of landlords who can access this scheme.
Impacted tenants may include, for example, gyms, clothing retailers, medical and dental practices, motels and hotels, restaurants, cafés, beauty salons and hairdressers.
Treasurer Rob Lucas explained that 1,500 applications for relief have been received to date.
“By helping landlords, we support their tenants and, in turn, ensure we sustain as many local jobs as possible throughout the greatest economic challenge of our time,” Mr Lucas said.
“Rent can be one of the biggest fixed costs for a small business or residential tenant, and this scheme complements the work of many landlords who have been working with their tenants and financial institutions to find an effective way through this period.”
Applications for the land tax relief scheme will be available via www.revenuesa.sa.gov.au/ltcovid19relief.