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Rent Relief Reinstated For NSW Retail

NSW retailers will see some heat taken off rent pressures as the state government reintroduces the National Cabinet’s Mandatory Code of Conduct for Commercial Leasing due to the ongoing Delta crisis.

In a statement from the NSW Small Business Commissioner, the Berejiklian government said it would bring back the Code until 13 January 2022, requiring landlords to provide rent relief proportional to tenants’ decline in turnover; at least half of this must be in the form of the waiver, with the rest a deferral.

“The Regulation applies to commercial and retail tenants with a turnover of up to $50 million who qualify for the COVID-19 Microbusiness grant, COVID-19 Business Grant or JobSaver Payment.

“It will prohibit a landlord from evicting or locking out a tenant for certain breaches of the lease unless they have first renegotiated rent and attempted mediation,” the Government said, adding that eligible commercial landlords would be able to apply for relief on up to 100 per cent of their land tax liability for the year.

“To be eligible, the landowner must have reduced rent for the affected tenant by at least the amount being claimed for any period between 1 July 2021 and 31 December 2021.

“A new $40 million Hardship Fund will also be established to provide a monthly grant of up to $3,000 for small commercial or retail landlords who provide rental waivers of at least the value of the grant and any land tax relief they are eligible for,” it said.

Paul Zahra, ARA.

Paul Zahra, CEO of the Australian Retailers Association, has celebrated the move, saying rents are the biggest issue for locked-down retailers.

“The ability of some retailers to pay their rents during this difficult period has been causing much stress and anxiety, so the announcement from the NSW Government has come as a welcome relief.

“The Leasing Code provides a framework for negotiations between landlords and tenants and mandates rent relief in proportion to a business’ decline in turnover.

“Despite the code being capped at $50 million, this framework is proven to assist not only smaller tenants but also provides a guide for negotiations in larger tenancies,” he said.

The original Code was set to expire on August 20.

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