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Extended Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme – To run until 15 March 2022

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On 15 January 2022, the Minister for Small Business announced an extension to the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme.
The extended scheme will now run until 15 March 2022, allowing eligible tenants rent relief until that date from 15 January (which is the date the 2021 Regulations would otherwise have ended).
The enabling legislation allows the Minister to make regulations in connection with the scheme through to 30 April 2022, so no further reference to Parliament will be required to give effect to the extension.

Some important things to note are as follows:
• The extended scheme will be available to businesses with an annual turnover of $10 million or less and which have suffered a decline in turnover of at least 30 per cent due to COVID-19 (NB: this is a substantial reduction on the previously applied threshold of $50,000,000)
• Landlords will be required to provide continued proportional rent relief in line with a reduction in turnover. For example, a business with a turnover of 40 per cent of pre-pandemic levels could only be charged 40 per cent of its rent.
• Of the balance, at least half would be waived, with the remainder to be deferred. The freeze on rent increases will continue.
• The Victorian Small Business Commission (VSBC) will continue to provide mediation support to tenants and landlords if parties cannot reach a satisfactory agreement.
• The eviction moratorium will continue. Landlords will not be able to lock out or evict tenants without undertaking mediation through the VSB.

For those of you who are interested, the press release can be viewed here: https://www.premier.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/2022-01/220115%20-%20Commercial%20Tenancy%20Support%20Extended.pdf

The extended regulations are yet to be released. We will provide a further update once we have more information.
In the meantime please don’t hesitate to contact Evelyn Marcou should you have any queries. Evelyn can be contacted at evelyn.marcou@mst.com.au or by calling (03) 8540 0200.