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Victorian Government announcement: Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme to be extended



To support small business owners under financial pressure as the state continues to respond to the COVID-19 Omicron variant, the Victorian Government is extending the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme (the Scheme) until 15 March 2022.

There will be some changes to the Scheme. Its operation will be retrospective starting 16 January 2022. This will ensure tenants who were accessing rent relief under the Scheme and who are still eligible under the extended Scheme don’t experience a gap in supports.

The extended Scheme will be available to businesses with an annual turnover of $10 million or less that have had a drop in turnover of at least 30 per cent or more because of COVID-19.

Landlords will be required to keep providing rent relief that matches their eligible tenant’s fall in turnover. For example, a business with a turnover of 40 per cent of what it was before the pandemic would only be charged 40 per cent of its rent. Of the remaining 60 per cent, at least half would need to be waived with the remainder deferred.

The Victorian Small Business Commission (VSBC) will continue to encourage good faith negotiations and will provide free help where a fair rent relief agreement can’t be reached. This includes providing guidance early on and where the matter can’t be sorted this way, the VSBC can arrange a free mediation session with an impartial mediator.

The ban on rent increases and evictions will continue, and landlords will not be able to lock out or evict tenants without undertaking mediation through the VSBC.

Tenants and landlords should abide by the conditions in their current rent relief agreement. Businesses that already have deferred rent under the Scheme will have more time to repay it because of the Scheme’s extension.

Eligible commercial landlords who provide rent relief under the extended Scheme will continue to be supported through the $20 million Commercial Landlord Hardship Fund.

Regulations for the Scheme will be made shortly and the VSBC’s website and FAQs will be updated.

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