On 29 March 2020 National Cabinet agreed to a moratorium on evictions over the next six months for commercial and residential tenancies in financial distress who are unable to meet their commitments due to the impact of coronavirus.
Commercial tenants, landlords and financial institutions are encouraged to sit down together to find a way through to ensure that businesses can survive and be there on the other side. National Cabinet agreed to a common set of principles, endorsed by Treasurers, to underpin and govern intervention to aid commercial tenancies as follows:
- Eviction – a short term, temporary moratorium on eviction for non-payment of rent to be applied across commercial tenancies impacted by severe rental distress due to coronavirus;
- Rent relief – tenants and landlords are encouraged to agree on rent relief or temporary amendments to the lease;
- Rental payments – the reduction or waiver of rental payment for a defined period for impacted tenants;
- Termination – the ability for tenants to terminate leases and/or seek mediation or conciliation on the grounds of financial distress;
- Passing on benefits – commercial property owners should ensure that any benefits received in respect of their properties should also benefit their tenants in proportion to the economic impact caused by coronavirus;
- Honour leases if not affected– landlords and tenants not significantly affected by coronavirus are expected to honour their lease and rental agreements; and
- Cost sharing or deferral of losses – cost-sharing or deferral of losses between landlords and tenants, with Commonwealth, state and territory governments, local government and financial institutions to consider mechanisms to provide assistance.
On 30 March 2020 National Cabinet has agreed to consider further advice from Treasurers on commercial and residential tenancies at their next meeting on Friday 3rd April 2020.
Considering COVID-19 in Australia, Landlords and Tenants should be checking their lease documents and thinking about what current actions may be required. Review of insurance policies to ascertain whether loss of rents/business interruption losses will be recoverable is also advisable.
Surry Partners Lawyers have acted on many lease transactions for landlords and tenants and can help to assist you through the process.
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