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Relief for commercial tenants



Small business on the Gold Coast and in Brisbane has been decimated by the effects of COVID-19. The Federal government is trying to help and has released a code which can be found here:

https://www.pm.gov.au/sites/default/files/files/national-cabinet-mandatory-code-ofconduct-sme-commercial-leasing-principles.pdf


What does it mean for you as a tenant or as a landlord? Firstly, try your best not to lose your cool and remember, we're all in this together and if individuals stay calm and act reasonably - business will be back on and life will be back to (the new) normal before you know it. Also, you should be aware the code doesn't apply to all types of commercial leases. For the new code to apply, the tenant must be an eligible business for the purpose of the Commonwealth Government's JobKeeper program - to check on this go here:

https://www.business.gov.au/Risk-management/Emergency-management/Coronavirus-information-and-support-for-business/JobKeeper-Payment-for-employers-and-employees


In the meantime here are some useful tips for self-help:


  1. If you haven't recently done so, locate a signed copy of your lease agreement and read it, especially the sections about defaults, breaches and termination.

  2. If you can't make rent or lease payments, get in telephone or email contact with your landlord as soon as possible and explain why you can't pay the rent. If you have experienced a significant reduction in income from the effects of COVID-19, the landlord must not terminate leases for non-payment of rent.

  3. If you are a landlord and the tenant asks for a rent reduction or waiver, the tenant must stay committed to their lease terms unless you both agree to changes in writing. The tenant needs to be able to show a landlord, with reasonable evidence, that business has reduced and this is why the rent cannot be paid strictly in terms of the original lease agreement.

  4. If you are a landlord, ensure you get in contact with your bank, local council, state government and Australian Taxation Office to get every available concession at this unprecedented business time.


The devil is always in the detail and the above is just a snippet of all the terms and conditions included in the code. As always, if it gets too stressful for you, get a lawyer or accountant to manage the process for you. Everyone is understandably experiencing never before seen social and economic disruption and you need to keep a close eye on your own mental health and that of your family and colleagues.


On a final note, be mindful that the Courts and Judges have a human side and if you commence urgent and aggressive court proceedings without having regard to the present governmental recommendations and the unprecedented circumstances faced by everyone in business and personally, you may not receive a positive outcome.

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Simon Taylor | Solicitor 

Gold Coast Litigation Lawyers

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Ph:  07 5551 0374