Victoria, Australia – The Victorian government‘s relief scheme for tenants and landlords – the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme – has been extended from 1 January 2021 to 28 March 2021, according to the Victorian Small Business Commission (VSBC).   

The scheme was introduced to relieve financial hardship faced by tenants and landlords as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Victorian Small Business Commissioner Judy O’Connell posted the news on Twitter.

The government will be continuing the support it has provided, which include the following: 

– A moratorium on commercial tenancy evictions from 29 March 2020 for the non-payment of rent for small to medium enterprises with an annual aggregate turnover under $50 million that have experienced a minimum 30 percent reduction in turnover due to coronavirus, where the tenant has followed the process for applying for rent relief. 

– A freeze on rent increases during the moratorium

– Rent relief provided by commercial landlords in proportion to (i.e. that matches) their tenants’ reduction in turnover due to coronavirus, made up of a minimum 50 percent rent waiver (the remainder can be made up of a rent deferral).

– A free mediation service for commercial tenants and landlords, accessed through the Victorian Small Business Commission (VSBC), to resolve disputes over rent relief

– The option for commercial tenants to apply to the VSBC for a binding order for rent relief if their landlord fails to respond to the VSBC or doesn’t engage in mediation in good faith.

The Government is also extending land tax relief to commercial or industrial landlords that provide rent relief to their tenants in 2021 and owner-occupiers of commercial properties.

The scheme’s support is provided for those commercial landlords and tenants under eligible leases. According to VSBC, small business tenants seeking rent relief within the extended period will need to apply to their landlord in writing with evidence of their eligibility as soon as possible, as a landlord is only required to provide rent relief from this date of application.

Further, if a tenant has already made a request and is seeking further rent relief for this extended period, then they will need to make another request to their landlord supplying the required evidence.

Regulations for the scheme have been made under the COVID-19 Commercial and Residential Tenancies Legislation Amendment (Extension) Act 2020. These regulations create temporary requirements for landlords and tenants for the duration of the scheme.

Hugging the tip of Australia’s east coast, Victoria is Australia’s second-smallest state, with Melbourne as its capital.