Victorian Premier’s press releases

April 16, 2020

Uncategorized

There has been a lot of press over the last 24 hours about the Victorian Government’s new measures for landlords and tenants.

There were two relevant press releases yesterday:

  1. one announcing the emergency sitting of Victorian Parliament, available here: https://www.premier.vic.gov.au/emergency-sitting-of-the-victorian-parliament-next-week/
  2. the second announcing the State government stimulus to support landlords and tenants, available here: https://www.premier.vic.gov.au/supporting-tenants-and-landlords-through-coronavirus/

The press release announcing the emergency sitting of Parliament includes the following:

The Victorian Government is drafting legislation to address issues such as the tenancy reforms agreed to by the National Cabinet ...

We do not yet know what that bill will look like, but we get some indications from the second press release.

Highlights from the second press release are:

These [new laws] include introducing a temporary ban on evictions, pausing rental increases for six months, and providing land tax relief for landlords and rent relief for tenants experiencing financial hardship as part of a plan to help Victorian families and businesses get to the other side of this unprecedented crisis.

Premier Daniel Andrews today announced a $500 million package aimed at giving certainty to residential and commercial tenants and landlords, while they struggle with the unprecedented economic disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic – with emergency legislation to be put into the Parliament next Thursday.

Tenants and landlords who struggle to strike a deal over rent reductions will be given access to a fast-tracked dispute resolution service, with Consumer Affairs Victoria or the Victorian Small Business Commission mediating to ensure fair agreements are reached.

… the Government will provide $420 million in land tax relief. If a landlord provides tenants impacted by coronavirus with rent relief, they will be eligible for a 25 per cent discount on their land tax, while any remaining land tax can be deferred until March 2021.

A new Coronavirus Relief Deputy Commissioner will be established at the State Revenue Office to manage these land tax relief claims.

… evictions will be banned for residential tenancies for six months, except in some circumstances. Evictions will also be banned for six months for the non-payment of rent for commercial tenancies involving small and medium-sized businesses. Rental increases will also be banned for commercial and residential properties for the same period.

… the Government will also urgently legislate so that eligible small and medium sized businesses can be granted rental waivers or deferrals.

Businesses are eligible for these measures if they have an annual turnover under $50 million per year and have experienced more than a 30 per cent reduction in turnover due to coronavirus.

The Government will also create an $80 million rental assistance fund for renters facing hardship due of coronavirus. To be eligible, renters will need to have registered their revised agreement with Consumer Affairs Victoria or gone through mediation, have less than $5,000 in savings and still be paying at least 30 per cent of their income in rent.

As agreed by National Cabinet, these new measures will come into effect from 29 March for a period of six months.

Readers should note the start date of 29 March 2020 for the relief period, meaning the legislation will have a retrospective effect.   It is unclear how this will affect deals that have already been struck between landlords and tenants.

About Sam Hopper

Sam is a property and insolvency barrister.

View all posts by Sam Hopper

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