Covid-19 relief comes to an end for Commercial Leases
Everyone is aware that the federal JobKeeper payments are due to come to an end at the end of March 2021. In terms of state Covid-19 relief, the Covid-19 relief regulations relating to commercial leases have already ceased.
There were various changes to the Retail and Commercial regulations during the Covid-19 period for tenants affected by Covid-19 who were able to qualify for JobKeeper or otherwise show that they were suffering as a result of the pandemic. The regulations relating to that aspect of Covid-19 relief (being the Covid-19 Emergency Response (Commercial Leases 2) Regulations 2020) ceased on the 3rd of January 2021. In particular, the restrictions on a landlord removing a tenant from the premises because of non-payment of rent has now ended, unless the landlord and tenant entered into an agreement which extended protection beyond that date.
Tenants and landlords both need to know that whilst the restrictions have lifted, if a tenant is not paying their rent, outgoings or meeting their other obligations, to remove them from the tenancy the documentation to do so has to be completely accurate. Remember that where a Covid-19 affected tenant is in arrears, the eviction, or distraint notice or general default notice needs to be absolutely accurate as to the amount outstanding. Various amounts owing could be deferred and various amounts of rent could also have been waived. The notices will have to accurately set out what is in fact owing as at the time of the notice.
In addition to defaults, during the Covid-19 relief period rent increases for Covid-19 affected tenants were delayed, but can now be re-instated from the 4th of January. This would also depend on the terms of the lease and we can give you advice as to whether the increase can occur automatically or whether you need to take steps in order for the increase to take place.
Various other changes were made during the Covid-19 period under the Covid-19 Emergency Response (Act 2020). Some of the more important changes set out in that Act related to residential tenancies, residential parks, and requirements as to documents and meetings and various other matters. This was due to expire on 6 February 2021 but has now been extended. Section 6 of the Act now states that the provisions can expire on the order of the Minister, or otherwise 28 days after the day on which all relevant declarations relating to the outbreak of the human disease named Covid-19 within South Australia have ceased, or 31 May 2021, whichever is the earlier.
Johnston Withers Lawyer will keep informed as to the changes in legislation which are continuing to occur throughout the Covid-19 period and our Commercial team is ready and able to help you with your commercial tenancy issues. If you need advice or direction from a lawyer, please contact Andrew Mitchard on (08) 8231 1110 or get in touch online.