Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme extended until March

17 January 2022

The Victorian Chamber welcomes the State Government’s extension of rent relief and protections for commercial tenants and landlords for another two months due to the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Despite hopes that the worst of COVID-19 was behind us, the Omicron outbreak and limited supply of rapid antigen tests has added another obstacle to the State’s economic recovery, with increasing infections causing workforce shortages and a decline in consumer spending.

To provide relief for Victorian small businesses continuing to experience financial hardship, the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme (CTRS) which was set to end on 15 January, will now run until 15 March 2022. The CTRS was created in 2020 and reintroduced in July 2021 in response to COVID-19 closures to support Victorian business.

The latest expansion is aimed to sustain small and family businesses through the Omicron wave and help them come out stronger on the other side.

“Victorian small and family businesses play a critical role in creating jobs and driving economic growth – and that’s why we’re supporting them to get through this challenging period,” Minister for Small Business Jaala Pulford said.

The scheme is now available to businesses with an annual turnover of $10 million or less whose turnover declined at least 30 per cent due to COVID-19.

As part of the scheme, landlords are 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 can only be charged 40 per cent of its rent.

Of the balance, at least half would be waived, with the remainder to be deferred.

Tenants and landlords should abide by the conditions in their existing agreement, with businesses that already have a deferment now having more time for repayments as a result of this extension.

A freeze on rent increases and the eviction moratorium will continue.

Landlords will not be able to lock out or evict tenants without mediation through the Victorian Small Business Commission (VSBC).

Eligible commercial landlords that have provided rent relief to tenants will continue to receive support through the Commercial Landlord Hardship Fund while their tenants are eligible for the CTRS.

“The Victorian Small Business Commission is here to support landlords and tenants in any way that we can. Where the tenant is under financial strain, we encourage them to try to negotiate a fair rent relief agreement between themselves. Where they can’t, they can come to us for free and impartial help to resolve their dispute,” Acting Victorian Small Business Commissioner Mark Schramm said.

More information

For more information about the Scheme, see the VSBC’s tenants and landlords page.

If you have any questions, please contact the VSBC on 13 8722 or at enquiries@vsbc.vic.gov.au.

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