Rent relief revived for commercial SME tenants in Victoria, including new businesses

According to the Victorian Small Business Commission, the Victorian Government having finalised new regulations and broadened eligibility for the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme.

In the VSBC’s words, it has been created to help small and medium-sized businesses with an annual turnover of less than $50 million who have experienced a fall in turnover of more than 30 per cent during the pandemic. 

Eligibility for rent relief has been expanded so that commercial tenants can now choose three consecutive months between 1 April and 30 September 2021 to compare to their turnover in the same three months in 2019. 

The rent relief scheme will apply retrospectively from 28 July 2021 and will run until 15 January 2022.  

Eligible business owners will get relief in the form of a proportionate reduction in rent. For example, says the VSBC, a business with a turnover of 40 per cent of pre-pandemic levels can only be charged 40 per cent of its rent. Of the balance, at least half must be waived, with the remainder deferred. 

Under the scheme, the Victorian Small Business Commission (VSBC) will support tenants and landlords by providing information to assist with negotiating a rent relief agreement and access to free and impartial mediation if a fair agreement can’t be reached. The VSBC is also offering help with negotiations and free mediation in situations where the tenant isn’t eligible for the Scheme.

New businesses will also be protected under the scheme, with any business that has opened since April 2019 eligible for assistance. New business owners can find out more here.

To help landlords who provide their eligible tenants with rent relief, the Government is also providing land tax relief of up to 25 per cent, in addition to any previous relief, with the support worth up to $100 million. In addition, small landlords who can demonstrate acute hardship will be eligible to apply for payments as part of a $20 million hardship fund. More information will be made available on the Business Victoria website.

For more information, tenants and landlords can access updates on the Victoria Small Business website, the new regulations and FAQs for the scheme and the step-by-step process for tenants and landlords or call 13 8722. 

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