March 27, 2020

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The Prime Minister has announced the following that affects landlords and tenants…

The theme of the presentation was to put the economy into hibernation by protecting businesses from unsustainable debt and rent arrears after the closure period.

The Prime Minister repeatedly signalled that 6 months is the period that the Government is considering.  However, we are yet to hear any more details of the package.

The suggestion appeared to be that commercial tenancies would be dealt with first, with residential tenancies to follow.

The Prime Minster foreshadowed that he and the Treasurer would have more to say in  “the next few days”.

The PM declined to answer a question seeking more details on the proposed hibernation, but did say that there are landlords that would need to suffer and banks would need to make arrangements with them.  Land tax relief was also foreshadowed.

The PM also highlighted that before locking a tenant out for not paying the rent and closing its doors, landlords should consider that the property can’t be re-let in the current environment and that it is sensible to consider the economic environment to ensure that everyone gets through.

Sam Hopper, Abilene Singh and Callum Dawlings

March 27, 2020

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Consumer Affairs information page about residential tenancies, inspection and auctions and owners corporations

Consumer Affairs Victoria has put up an information page in response to the COVID-19 crisis that gives information about, among other things, residential tenancies, inspection and auctions and owners corporations.

The website is available here: https://www.consumer.vic.gov.au/resources-and-tools/advice-in-a-disaster/coronavirus-covid19-and-your-rights?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Important+message+from+CAV+about+Coronavirus+%28COVID-19%29&utm_content=consumer.vic.gov.au%2Fresources-and-tools%2Fadvice-in-a-disaster%2Fcoronavirus-covid19-and-your-rights&utm_source=submit.consumer.vic.gov.au

Thanks to my colleague Bill Stark for sending this to me.

March 27, 2020

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ABC report on government measures for COVID-19, including reference to rent payable during closure periods

The ABC have posted an article foreshadowing the Federal Government’s package to help the country through the COVID-19 crisis.

The report includes the following that is relevant to landlords and tenants:

Banks, lenders and landlords would all be asked to wear some of the pain, waiving all overheads including rents and mortgage repayments for at least the next six months.

 …

National Cabinet is expected to sign-off on relief for commercial and residential renters today, with state leaders moving to prevent evictions during the downturn.

For more details, see: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-27/coronavirus-business-hibernation-australia-responds-to-pandemic/12095738

March 27, 2020

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More closures, but few answers

In the absence of any definitive answers from either the Federal or State Governments my colleague Elizabeth Ruddle continues to trawl the media for news on the retail leasing sector and has sent me the information below.

Following on from reports yesterday that Premier Brands will be closing their stores until April and have unilaterally made the decision not to pay rent, the Australian Financial Review is today reporting that other major bands are likewise closing and not intending to pay rent. Full report here: https://www.afr.com/companies/retail/retailer-rent-revolt-hits-mall-landlords-20200326-p54e6e

As has previously been mentioned on the blog, some Commercial and Shopping Centre Landlords have already indicated a willingness to negotiate or provide rent relief. Woolworths are latest to make such an announcement: https://www.shoppingcentrenews.com.au/shopping-centre-news/industry-news/woolworths-group-helps-small-business-with-rental-relief-and-employment-opportunities/

Of course, none of this helps tenants outside the major shopping centre chains nor is there any clarity for small landlords. In the absence of any formal changes to the operation of either the Retail Leases Act or the Property Law Act, right now it seems that negotiation with landlords is the best bet for tenants struggling with the effects of Covid-19. After all, landlords will be unlikely to find replacement tenants in the current environment.

March 26, 2020

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Covid-19 update: Property Council calls for Land Tax relief; more councils provide rent relief

As the Tasmanian Government has been debating its stimulus package, the Property Council has been pushing for relief for landlords in the form of Property Tax reductions or deferrals.

https://www.nationaltribune.com.au/property-council-of-australia-calls-for-urgent-utilities-state-and-local-government-relief/

https://www.propertycouncil.com.au/Web/Content/Media_Release/TAS/2020/PROPERTY_COUNCIL_OF_AUSTRALIA_CALLS_FOR_LAND_TAX_RELIEF.aspx

This is in line with the Victorian Government stimulus package announced last week which included the ability for commercial tenants in government buildings to apply for rent relief as well as the ability to defer land tax for eligible small businesses. The government announcement is below.

https://www.premier.vic.gov.au/economic-survival-package-to-support-businesses-and-jobs/

In addition to announcements by the City of Geelong, the City of Port Phillip has announced rental relief for its tenants.

http://www.portphillip.vic.gov.au/mar-2020-media_8930.htm

Elizabeth Ruddle

https://www.vicbar.com.au/profile/7530

Abilene Singh

https://www.vicbar.com.au/profile/9156

 

 

March 26, 2020

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Premier Investment shuts all of its stores until 22 April 2020

The Age has reported that Premier Investments will shut all of its stores until 22 April 2020 and will not be paying rent over the period. Premier Investments brands include Smiggle, Peter Alexander, Jay Jays, Just Jeans and Portmans.

For more information, see: https://www.theage.com.au/business/companies/retail-carnage-hundreds-of-stores-close-as-30-000-workers-stood-down-20200326-p54e1j.html

March 26, 2020

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Reports in the Age, the Herald Sun and the AFR about tenants being protected from eviction

The Age has published an article confirming that state governments are working on measures to protect home renters and small business owners whose businesses are closed by measures to combat the spread of Covid-19 here: https://www.theage.com.au/politics/federal/rental-rescue-for-business-tenants-to-be-protected-from-eviction-20200325-p54dvl.html

The article says that:

The measures would prevent landlords evicting tenants from both residential and commercial leases if those tenants can point to the coronavirus crisis as the cause of their financial stress.

The article also says that:

Commercial landlords will be helped in return for accepting the halt to evictions for vulnerable customers, but the nature of that help is still being negotiated.

The Herald Sun and the Australian Financial Review have reported that the Federal Government is reportedly considering income tax cuts for landlords who reduce the rental amount that tenants must pay.

March 25, 2020

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Tasmanian Government is debating a 120 day moratorium on terminating leases for non-payment of rent

The ABC has reported that the Tasmanian Government is debating a bill that would prevent landlords from terminating leases for non-payment of rent for a period of 120 days, with a possible extension of a further 90 days in exceptional circumstances.  It is intended to protect both residential and commercial tenants.

Other measures are proposed, including the ability to break leases in cases of hardship and possible restrictions on rent increases.

For more information, see: https://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-25/tenancy-law-changes-under-coronavirus-crisis-before-tas-parli/12089798?pfmredir=sm&sf231914695=1&utm_medium=spredfast&utm_content=sf231914695&utm_campaign=abc_news&utm_source=m.facebook.com

 

March 25, 2020

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More Covid-19 materials

Sam Hopper and Abilene Singh