Relief Scheme and Eviction Moratorium ends on 28th March!

23rd March 2021
Posted by Harry Croft

Unfortunately for a lot of tenants hit hard by COVID-19, the Victorian COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) (Commercial Leases and Licences) Regulations 2020 (Regulations) end on 28 March 2021. 

What does this mean for tenants? 

Under the Regulations, the ‘relevant period’ and accompanying opportunity to request rent relief ends on 28 March 2021 (the same date as the end of the JobKeeper scheme).  The moratorium on property evictions for commercial tenants also ends on 28 March 2021. 

What if a tenant hasn’t agreed with the landlord on rent relief by 28 March 2021? 

Where a tenant has still not been able agree with their landlord on rent reliefyou should urgently apply to the Victorian Small Business Commission (VSBC) to resolve the dispute (if you have not already).  If the landlord either fails to respond or does not engage in mediation in good faithyou may then apply to the VSBC for a binding order for rent relief.

If the landlord and tenant do not resolve the matter at mediation, either the landlord or the tenant can apply to VCAT or another court to make a decision on the dispute. A lease dispute (other than one for an application for an injunction) can only be referred to the courts if the VSBC has certified in writing that the mediation failed or is unlikely to resolve the dispute.  We can assist you to prepare and participate in the mediation process at the VSBC. 

If you are a tenant and have not agreed on rent relief with your landlord and the landlord then threatens to evict you from the property after the Regulations end, you should seek urgent legal advice to discuss your options. 

Looking to get into a great new space? 

On a more positive note, as COVID-19 continues to impact the leasing market and more spaces become vacant, the bargaining position for tenants is evolving.  Landlords appear to be more open to new deal structures or tenant-friendly positions (e.g. fitout incentives, rent-free periods or tenant-friendly pre-conditions to entering into a lease). 

This presents a great opportunity for tenants to negotiate more favourable leasing terms.  And remember, heads of agreement may often be binding, so get preliminary advice and documents reviewed before signing any heads of agreement or lease documents! 

If you would like assistance with any leasing matter, including rent relief negotiations and signing a new lease, please contact us on 03 9521 2128 or email hello@studiolegal.com.au.

 

DISCLAIMER

The information in this article is of a general nature. It does not constitute formal legal advice, and should not be relied on as such. Please see the full disclaimer in our website terms. Please contact Studio Legal if you are seeking advice about a specific legal matter.