Small businesses in New South Wales and Victoria will be able to access rent relief for another two months, after both state governments extended the code of conduct that requires landlords to give rent deferrals and waivers to commercial tenants.
The extension, through to March 13, 2022 in NSW and March 15, 2022 in Victoria, comes as businesses continue to grapple with challenging trading conditions amid the ongoing Omicron outbreak, with reduced foot traffic, staff shortages and supply chain disruptions affecting businesses across multiple industries.
In NSW, the Commercial Leasing Code of Conduct was first introduced in April 2020, after the federal government developed a national rent relief framework, which was then implemented in state-based codes.
The Victorian scheme was due to end on January 15, 2022, even as new COVID-19 restrictions came into effect last week.
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Both rent relief schemes had previously been extended a number of times. However, the latest extension in NSW only applies to businesses with up to $5 million in annual turnover.
Under the NSW code, at least half of any rent relief given to tenants must be in the form of a waiver, with rent deferrals to make up the balance.
According to details on the NSW Small Business Commissioner’s website, landlords must negotiate rent relief agreements if eligible tenants are in financial distress due to COVID-19 public health orders. The rent relief should be proportionate to the decline in turnover experienced by the tenant.
The extension also means that a number of protections contained in the national cabinet’s code of conduct also still apply for tenants, including a provision that prevents landlords from terminating leases for non-payment of rent.