NSW Treasurer urges small businesses “doing it tough” to access rent relief

rent-relief

NSW Treasurer Matt Kean. Source: AAP/Joel Carrett.

Small businesses struggling to bounce back after protracted lockdowns in New South Wales can continue negotiating rent relief with their landlords until after the New Year.

NSW Treasurer Matt Kean urged small businesses “still doing it tough” to contact their landlord, who is required to negotiate rent until January 13 under the National Cabinet’s Code of Conduct and the Retail and Other Commercial Leases (COVID-19) Regulation 2021.

Under the scheme, landlords must offer a reduction in rent that matches the decline in turnover of their eligible small commercial and retail tenants. At least half of the reduced rent must be offered in the form of a waiver, with the remaining amount deferred.

Small businesses must have turnover of $50 million or less and continue to meet the requirements for the now-expired JobSaver or micro-business grants in order to claim lower rent.

NSW Treasurer Matt Kean said the ongoing rent relief measures will provide small businesses with “a necessary buffer” allowing them to get back on their feet.

“As we recover from the pandemic we need to make sure we leave no one behind and support impacted businesses as they continue to recover,” Kean said.

To support landlords, the NSW government established the Commercial Landlord Hardship Fund, providing small commercial or retail landlords with up to $3000 each month for every property they provide rent relief on.

Landlords can also access discounts on land tax, if they have reduced their tenants’ rent between July 1 and December 31, 2021.

Small business owners who need advice about negotiating a reduction in rent from their landlords or who have not been able to come to an agreement can contact the NSW Small Business Commissioner for mediation assistance.

Commenting on the scheme, NSW Small Business Commissioner Chris Lamont told SmartCompany his office has fielded more than 39,000 calls about COVID-19 support and rental relief since January this year.

“More than 1900 applications for mediation have been received and 528 sessions completed to mediate a negotiated outcome between landlords and tenants,” Lamont said.

Moreover, small business owners who have struggled to come to an agreement with their landlord should contact his office for support, as successful mediation could result in the retrospective application of rental relief, Lamont said.

First adopted in 2020, the rent relief scheme was extended until August this year in the wake of the Delta coronavirus outbreak.

The NSW government extended the scheme again in response to Sydney’s prolonged lockdown, allowing businesses to claim reductions in rent until January 13, 2022.

For businesses that struggle to come to an agreement with their landlord, the NSW Small Business Commission is available to assist by offering mediation service support.

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