Powers for determining rent relief disputes expanded.

10 September 2020 | Reading time: 2 minutes

As contemplated in our previous blog, on 3 September 2020, the Victorian Government has now introduced COVID-19 Commercial and Residential Tenancies Legislation Amendment (Extension) Bill 2020 (Bill) into the Legislative Assembly.

The Bill introduces greater powers for regulations to be passed with respect to rent relief disputes.

Key takeaways.

Key takeaways from the Bill include the following:

  • The Minister for Small Business has the power to make further regulations for rent relief disputes;
  • The Minister may make binding decisions on rent relief disputes; and
  • The part of the COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) Act 2020 under which regulations can be made to modify the law relating to leases and licences is extended until 26 April 2021.

Further regulations.

The Bill gives the Minister greater powers to make regulations that deal with rent relief disputes. Specifically, these are regulations that determine the following:

  • application process for binding orders;
  • preconditions for applying for rent relief;
  • processes for assessing with and ruling on rent relief applications; and
  • process for enforcing non-compliance through VCAT.

Binding orders.

The Bill also gives the Minister power to make binding orders on landlords, requiring them to give specified rent relief to tenants. Landlords may not apply for binding orders.

This expands the scope of current regulations, which only allowed for mediation of rent relief disputes with the Victorian Small Business Commission.

Commercial tenancy relief scheme.

The Bill extends the commercial tenancy relief scheme, which was due to end on 29 September 2020, until 26 April 2021.  At present, the extension of the commercial tenancy relief scheme will be until 31 December 2020 with the capacity to be extended further until 26 April 2021 if required.

We can help.

The new provisions are enabling only, meaning that they depend on amendments being made to the Regulations under the Act. The Bespoke Leasing Team will continue to monitor developments and keep you updated.

For details of all of our COVID-19 tips and updates on Commercial & Retail Leasing, visit here.