Late on Friday 11 December the Victorian Minister for Small Business announced (by post on her Facebook page) an extension to the commercial tenancy relief scheme.
Relevantly the post notes that the “existing… scheme will be extended… to 28 March 2021”.
This would indicate that the Regulations will be extended in the same form as they presently stand. To refresh on what that means you might like to review our Update 8 – (the commercial leases Regulations amendments) - effects on commercial tenancies (easternbridge.com.au) and Update 9 – (the commercial leases Regulations amendments) - effects on commercial tenancies (easternbridge.com.au).
Relevantly, an extension on the same terms can be expected:
to require tenants to make a new rent relief request relating to the period post-31 December (including by provision of evidence of decline in turnover for the quarter ending 31 December 2020);
to entitle tenants to post-31 December relief only from the date the new request is made;
to require landlords to offer rent relief 1 January – 28 March 2021 that is at a minimum proportional to the tenant’s decline in turnover in the December 2020 quarter; and
to push back the commencement date for repayment of any deferred rent so that repayments commence 29 March 2021.
We note that with the Christmas/new year break tenants may find it difficult to promptly produce the evidence necessary to make a fresh request until well into the new year – denying them the benefit of relief for that period. Tenants would be well advised to speak to their accountants now about what they can do to speed up that process in the new year.
There is unlikely to be any change to the requirement that to qualify for any relief the lease must have been in effect on 29 March 2020 (that requirement is set by the Act and our understanding is that it is only proposed to make these changes by way of amending Regulation).
The note in the post about support for landlords is an interesting one - it may be that land tax relief will now stretch into the new year.
At this stage there has been no formal press release or further information, we will keep you updated as we find out more.
Accredited Specialist | Commercial Leasing