Under the extended Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme, the Victorian Small Business Commission (VSBC) will be able to issue binding rent reduction orders in situations where landlords refuse to respond to tenants or engage in negotiations in good faith.
The new regulations require commercial landlords to provide rent relief in proportion with the fall in turnover being experienced by eligible tenants.
Previously, proportionality was only one of several factors to be considered during negotiations on rent relief.
Further, rent increases as well as evictions for commercial tenants where rent relief has been sought will continue to be banned until 31 December 2020.
A free mediation service through the VSBC will also be available until the end of the year to assist tenants and landlords in resolving rent relief disputes caused by the coronavirus crisis.
“We are extending these emergency commercial rent arrangements to help small businesses trade through to COVID normal — these regulations lay down the rules unambiguously and we expect all parties to abide by them,” said Victorian Small Business Minister Jaala Pulford.
“Smaller private landlords who’ve done the right thing by their tenants — by giving them rent relief — can apply for a hardship grant to help ease the pressure, and I encourage them to do so.”
The commercial rent relief scheme commenced on 29 March 2020 and is due to expire on 31 December 2020.
Current commercial rent relief arrangements in other states and territories
New South Wales extended its commercial rent relief scheme until 31 December 2020.
Queensland also extended its relief for commercial tenants until 31 December 2020.
South Australia extended its commercial rent relief scheme until 3 January 2021.
Western Australia extended its relief to commercial tenants until 28 March 2021.
Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory finished their schemes at the end of September 2020.