Coronavirus (COVID-19) support for commercial tenants
If you are a small to medium sized business affected by coronavirus (COVID-19), support is available to help you manage your commercial lease and rental obligations.
Government and banking support provided for landlords is conditional upon them passing on the benefits to their tenants, through rent reductions or relaxing of tenants' obligations.
You will need to negotiate with your landlord to make the necessary changes to your leasing arrangements.
Code of conduct for commercial tenancies
The Queensland Government has introduced regulations under the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act 2020, in response to the mandatory Code of Conduct for Commercial Leasing (PDF, 235KB) released by the Australian Government.
Under the regulations, a lease is considered an affected lease if it meets all of the following criteria:
- It is a retail shop lease or a lease for carrying on the business of the tenant.
- It was current when the regulations commenced (28 May 2020).
- It is a lease of a premises where the tenant carries on business or is a non-profit body in the current financial year.
- The tenant's turnover was less than $50 million for the 2018–19 financial year or is likely to be under $50 million for the 2019–20 financial year.
- The tenant is eligible for, but not necessarily enrolled in, the JobKeeper Payment scheme.
During the response period defined under the regulation (29 March to 30 September 2020), if your lease is an affected lease:
- you may not be evicted or have your lease terminated for non-payment of rent or outgoings
- your rent must be reduced in proportion to your lost turnover (at least 50% of the rent reduction offered must be in the form of a waiver, leaving the rest to be deferred)
- your rent may not be increased
- you may not be penalised for reducing trading hours or not opening
- your landlord may not make a claim on a bank guarantee or security deposit for unpaid rent or outgoings.
Find out more about how the regulations and the code applies to commercial tenancies.
Negotiating with your landlord
Ensure your landlord is aware that your turnover has been affected by COVID-19 so they can apply for support. If your landlord isn't aware of how your business has been affected, they won't be able to assist you. Talk about how you, as a tenant, will be able to benefit from any support they receive.
You may like to seek independent advice for your individual situation, such as from a business advisor or a legal professional.
If you have been impacted by COVID-19 you may be able to access the free Small Business Financial Counselling program to discuss your financial position. The program can also:
- confidentially asses your financial position, cash flow and viability
- identify appropriate business options and help you develop an action plan
- help you negotiate with lenders and creditors
- help you prepare for meetings with professional services providers from both private and government sectors.
Phone the Small Business Financial Counselling program on 1300 732 777.
Land tax relief for landowners
Your commercial landlord may be eligible for land tax relief. If your landlord receives this benefit, they must pass it on to you in the form of rent relief.
Banking relief for landlords
Your landlord may be eligible to have their loan repayments deferred by their bank. A condition of the deferral is that they cannot terminate your lease or evict you for rent arrears as a result of COVID-19.
Find out how banks are supporting commercial tenancies on the Australian Banking Association website.
Always try and resolve disputes by having a discussion with your landlord first. In general, there are 5 steps to dispute resolution. The first 3 steps involve attempting to resolve the dispute yourself. The final 2 steps involve liaising with third-party mediation services, courts and tribunals.
If you are unable to reach an agreement with your landlord about the concessions they will provide, you or your landlord can refer the matter for mediation to the Office of the Queensland Small Business Commissioner.
Learn more about your options for commercial lease disputes.
- Last reviewed: 1 May 2020
- Last updated: 6 Jul 2020
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