Home Responding to coronavirus (COVID-19) Commercial (including retail) tenants and landlords
Responding to coronavirus (COVID-19)

Commercial (including retail) tenants and landlords

Supports to continue into 2022

PLEASE NOTE: the Victorian Government’s extended Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme (the Scheme) ended on 15 March 2022.

Commercial tenants are no longer entitled to rent relief. Tenants and landlords still have access to the Victorian Small Business Commission’s (VSBC) support.

If a tenant is still having trouble paying rent, we encourage them to:

  • speak with their landlord as soon as possible
  • access free, expert business advice and/or financial counselling via Partners in Wellbeing.

Where an agreement can’t be reached, either the tenant or landlord can apply to the VSBC for impartial help to resolve their dispute.

Dispute resolution under the previous and extended Schemes

Either the tenant or landlord can still apply to us for help to resolve their dispute:

  • under the extended Scheme (16 January to 15 March 2022) – to make sure the tenant was eligible and met the Scheme’s requirements, see questions 13 and 16 of our FAQs
  • under the previous Scheme (28 July 2021 to 15 January 2022) – to make sure the tenant was eligible and met the Scheme’s requirements, see questions 9 and 12 of our previous FAQs.

Negotiating ‘in good faith’

We encourage tenants and landlords who enter into negotiations to do so in good faith.

This means:

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

When negotiating, it is important to remember that landlords are no longer required to provide rent relief to their tenants.

How we can help

If negotiation hasn’t resulted in a fair agreement or the tenant or landlord has refused to negotiate, either party can apply for our help.

Help includes free assistance early on – often just over the phone – and if the matter can’t be resolved this way, we can arrange for a low-cost mediation session to be held online. This is where an independent and experienced professional – the mediator – helps the tenant and landlord to reach an agreement they can both accept.

Mediation costs $195 per party, per session.

Before mediation, we encourage 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 for our help, access our application forms.

More information

For more information, see our:

  • FAQs on topics including applying for help to resolve a dispute
  • recommended process for tenants and landlords
  • scenario showing fair negotiations and ways we can help
  • FAQs for the previous and extended Schemes (both of which have ended).

If you have any questions, contact the VSBC on 13 8722 or at enquiries@vsbc.vic.gov.au.

Can I end my lease early?

Some tenants who have seen a downturn in trade might be wanting to end their lease early. As a lease is a legally binding agreement, we encourage tenants in this situation to communicate with their landlord as early as possible to discuss their position and options. Read more

Looking after yourself

We encourage all small business people who are feeling stressed or concerned about their business to call the Partners in Wellbeing helpline on 1300 375 330. The helpline is free and confidential, and gives one-on-one access to trained wellbeing coaches, financial counsellors and business advisors who can help.

General retail leasing information

As a retail tenant or landlord, it’s important to understand your rights and responsibilities under the Retail Leases Act 2003, including in relation to essential safety measures, security deposits, disclosure statements, options and renewals, early rent review and cooling off.


Related information