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Victorian small businesses eligible for commercial tenancy relief

Victorian small businesses eligible for commercial tenancy relief

Commercial landlords are required to provide rent relief to eligible small and medium-sized businesses that have suffered serious trading downturn due to recent lockdowns and restrictions.

The new measure announced by the Victorian Government will be effective from July 28, 2021 and will facilitate commercial rent waivers and deferrals.

The reintroduced Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme will provide rent relief for eligible tenants, while separate support will be provided to landlords who do the right thing by their tenants.

The scheme is available to businesses that have an annual turnover of less than $50 million and experienced a decrease in turnover of at least 30 per cent due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Legislation will soon be introduced to ratify the scheme, and will apply from July 28, to ensure rent relief can begin immediately.

Landlords will be required to provide proportional rent relief in line with a business’s decline in turnover. For example, a business with a turnover of 40 per cent of pre-pandemic levels can only be charged 40 per cent of its rent. Of the balance, at least half must be waived, with the remainder to be deferred.

To assist landlords who do the right thing by their tenants, the Victorian Government has created an $80 million Landlord Hardship Fund.

Minister for Small Business Jaala Pulford said the scheme would provide relief for the businesses that need extra assistance to get back on their feet as we emerge from lockdown.

“We’re calling for good-faith negotiations between tenants and landlords, and the hardship fund will mean landlords who find reasonable common ground will be supported,” she said.

Mediation service available

To assist tenants and landlords with this scheme, a mediation service will be available to further support fair tenancy negotiations.

Tenants and landlords are encouraged to enter negotiations directly, with the Victorian Small Business Commission (VSBC) available to offer mediation if parties cannot reach a satisfactory agreement.

Landlords will not be allowed to lock out or evict tenants without a determination from the VSBC.

For further information, tenants and landlords can contact the Victorian Small Business Commission on 13 87 22 or visit vsbc.vic.gov.au

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