The Victorian Government confirmed on 22 December 2020 that the rent relief period under the COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) Act 2020 (Act) and the COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) (Commercial Leases and Licences) Regulations 2020 (Regulations) are extended up until 28 March 2021.

There has been no substantive change to the Act and Regulations other than the end date.

Eligible tenants that previously applied for rent relief are able to apply to a landlord in writing for further relief from 1 January 2021 to 28 March 2021 if they still meet the requirements in the Regulations.

Our Property Update released on 23 September 2020 highlights what the eligibility requirements are.

A landlord would not be obliged to extend the tenant's rent relief period until 28 March 2021 if a tenant's business no longer meets these requirements, particularly if the tenant no longer is participating in the JobKeeper scheme. However, this does not prevent landlords and tenants from negotiating to enter into arrangements or agreements deemed appropriate.

On the other hand, if the requirements under the Regulations are met, a landlord must extend the rent relief period from the date the application was made until 28 March 2021.

This particular rent relief extension applies to the following protections::

  1. Further rent relief granted to tenants up to 28 March 2021;
  2. Deferred rental payments extended to commence only after 28 March 2021;
  3. The prohibition on Landlords evicting tenants for non-payment of rent and outgoings extended to 28 March 2021; and
  4. The restriction on rent increases extended to 28 March 2021.

In the instance where tenants and landlords are unable to reach an agreement for rent relief, they are both able to apply for free mediation with the Victorian Small Business Commission to help resolve the dispute.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.