Support to continue after Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme ends

20 December 2021

The Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme is ending on 15 January 2022. Although eligible tenants will no longer be entitled to rent relief after this date, tenants and landlords will still have access to support via the Victorian Small Business Commission.

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In August 2021, the State Government pledged further relief for commercial tenants suffering financial stress or hardship as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with new regulations finalised as part of the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme (CTRS).

The scheme was created to help small and medium-sized businesses with an annual turnover of less than $50 million that experienced a loss in revenue of more than 30 per cent during the pandemic. As part of the initiative, the Victorian Small Business Commission (VSBC) was available to provide support for both tenants and landlords with information to negotiate an agreement and free mediation for those who needed further assistance.

On 15 January 2022, the CTRS will end. Although tenants will not be entitled to rent relief after this date, tenants and landlords under financial strain will still have access to support via the VSBC who will continue providing guidance with rent relief negotiations.

Where an agreement cannot be reached, either the tenant or landlord will be able to apply for free mediation to help resolve the dispute.

Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry General Manager, Policy and Advocacy, Dylan Broomfield said: “Throughout the pandemic, the Victorian Chamber advocated for support to help with commercial rent and other costs. As the likelihood of lockdowns has now decreased, we are in a position for the CTRS to end. Government needs to stand ready to help businesses in other ways so that they can make the most of the recovery.

How it works

Accessing help under the Scheme

If a tenant made a compliant rent relief request to their landlord before 15 January 2022, either the tenant or landlord will still be able to apply for free dispute resolution under the Scheme after that date.

Asking for relief and negotiating ‘in good faith’

If a tenant is still under financial pressure after the scheme ends, they have the option of trying to negotiate a new rent relief agreement with their landlord in good faith.

This means:

  • Communicating with each other honestly and fairly with a real want to reach an agreement
  • Behaving in an open and transparent way
  • Providing accurate information – and enough of it – to support negotiations.

Applying for mediation

If negotiation hasn’t resulted in an agreement or the tenant or landlord has refused to negotiate, either party can apply for free mediation. This is where an experienced professional – the mediator – helps them reach an agreement that they can both accept.

Before mediation, the VSBC encourages tenants and landlords to think about:

  • The outcome they’re after What might be important to the other party
  • Compromises they’re prepared to consider.

To apply, please access the VSBC’s application forms page.

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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