The NSW Government has announced here an extension to the COVID-19 laws protecting retail and commercial leases. The laws were to end on 24 October 2020, and will now extend to 31 December 2020. A bill detailing the changes is expected this week or next.

The amendments are not made clear – the news was via the Minister's press statement. The amendments may simply recast the current end date from 24 October 2020 until 31 December 2020. The press release also suggests tenants may be entitled to further relief if they can re-establish eligibility (JobKeeper, etc.). It is tempting, even hopeful, to think the amendments might address current deficiencies. For example, the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal cannot impose a renegotiated outcome if negotiations fail and mediation is unsuccessful – see our recent Sneakerboy article here.

And what may happen to leases entered into after 24 April 2020 – the current regime excludes these. Also what about where parties have already negotiated rent relief and agreed payments return to normal after 24 October 2020? What about where parties have agreed on terms said to exhaust the entirety of relief a landlord will provide? We wait to see.

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