Commercial (including retail) tenants and landlords
On this page
- Support for tenants and landlords in reaching rent relief agreements
- Tenants who are having difficulty paying rent
- Negotiating in good faith and documenting the agreement
- Landlords and tenants who can’t reach an agreement
- How can landlords access land tax relief?
- Can I end my lease early?
- Should I close my small business?
- General retail leasing information – what tenants and landlords need to know
Support for tenants and landlords in reaching rent relief agreements
The Victorian Small Business Commission (VSBC) is here to support commercial tenants and landlords who are experiencing financial hardship as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19).
Although commercial tenants are no longer entitled by law to rent relief now that the Victorian Government’s Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme (the Scheme) has ended, we are still providing free and impartial mediation to help resolve commercial rent relief disputes in response to the pandemic.
We are providing guidance in how to negotiate in good faith and reach a fair agreement after 28 March 2021. Where an agreement can’t be reached, either the tenant or landlord can apply for mediation.
Tenants and landlords can also apply for mediation to help resolve a rent relief dispute from before 28 March 2021.
Applications can be made using our retail leases dispute form.
For more information, see our:
- responses to frequently asked questions
- scenario showing what good faith negotiations can look like
- fact sheet with rent relief guidance for tenants and landlords
- recommended process for having negotiations and resolving a dispute at no cost.
Tenants who are having difficulty paying rent
Commercial tenants who are having difficulty paying monthly and/or deferred rent are encouraged to take the following steps:
- Review your finances and keep paying what rent you can afford.
- Contact an accountant, a business advisor or mentor, or a financial counsellor for advice as soon as you can – the Small Business Mentoring Service provides access to experienced mentors, Partners in Wellbeing provides access to free qualified financial counsellors who can help in negotiating affordable repayment plans and CPA Australia offers a helpful tool for finding a certified practising accountant in Victoria.
- Try to negotiate a new agreement on rent with your landlord that will apply after 28 March 2021 by:
- talking with them about your situation, what rent you can afford to pay and the rent relief you are requesting (how much and for how long)
- considering supplying documents showing your fall in turnover for the leased premises (e.g. extracts from your accounting records, your BASs, bank statements that relate to your account or a statement prepared by a practising accountant) to support your request.
- Look after yourself – if you are feeling stressed, worried or overwhelmed, call the Partners in Wellbeing helpline on 1300 375 330 (Monday to Friday 9am – 10pm, Saturday to Sunday 9am – 5pm) for mental health support and financial counselling at no cost.
Negotiating in good faith and documenting the agreement
Where a tenant is having difficulty paying rent, we encourage the landlord and tenant to negotiate in good faith. This means:
- communicating with each other openly
- being transparent
- having discussions honestly and fairly with the genuine aim of reaching an agreement
- providing sufficient and accurate information within the context of negotiations.
Landlords and tenants who can’t reach an agreement
If a landlord or tenant can’t reach an agreement or get a response from the other party, they can use our retail leases dispute form to apply for help in having negotiations and reaching a fair agreement at mediation.
How can landlords access land tax relief?
Landlords who have provided rent relief to their tenant might be eligible for land tax relief as part of the Victorian Government’s 2021 measures. For more information or to apply, visit the State Revenue Office’s website.
Can I end my lease early?
A lease is a legally binding agreement. Some tenants who are experiencing a downturn in trade might be wanting to end their lease early. We encourage tenants in this situation to communicate with their landlord as early as possible to discuss their position and alternative options. Find out more.
Should I close my small business?
If you’re finding that your small business is no longer viable, you might need to consider closing your business. CPA Australia offers practical guidance on warning signs your business might be in trouble – both early on and at the critical stage – and actions you can take. Find out more.
General retail leasing information – what tenants and landlords need to know
As a retail tenant or landlord, it’s important to understand:
- your rights and responsibilities and what is and isn’t allowed under the Retail Leases Act 2003 in relation to lease terms and conditions
- important changes under the Retail Leases Amendment Act 2020 that amended the Retail Leases Act 2003 in relation to essential safety measures, security deposits (bonds), disclosure statements, option to renew, early rent review and cooling off.