Salon owners are reminded that the temporary commercial tenancy protections under the Commercial Tenancies (COVID-19 Response) Act 2020 are set to expire on March 28.

While the measure was initially put in place to prevent small businesses from having to close down due to being unable to pay rent, from March 28 the protections will only apply to negotiations that have been finalised by a written variation to a lease, are the subject of an ongoing dispute assisted by the Small Business Commissioner, or have proceeded to the State Administrative Tribunal. 

In all other cases, landlords will be permitted to take action against small-business tenants that were prohibited by the Act, unless a formal dispute process is already underway.

“It is essential for any parties to a small commercial lease experiencing ongoing financial hardship due to the pandemic to formalise rent relief agreements now, in order to be protected under the law,” said Small Business Commissioner David Eaton. “Small businesses should also act now to forecast their operating expenses to avoid unexpected costs and manage their business finances effectively.”

Eaton highlighted the role of the Small Business Development Corporation and its dispute resolution service framework that can help tenants and landlords in reaching agreements on variations to existing leases.

“Tenants and landlords need to maintain a healthy working relationship, so it’s essential that rent relief negotiations recognise the challenges placed on both parties by the pandemic,” Mr Eaton said. “Our team at the SBDC can help both parties negotiate together in a respectful and productive way to comply with the WA code of conduct for negotiating rent relief.”

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