NSW extends rent relief for retail and commercial tenants impacted by Covid-19

Earlier this year, we reported on the New South Wales Government’s COVID-19 relief regulations for retail and other commercial tenants. Those regulations expired on 24 October 2020 but have been replaced by new but essentially identical regulations, extending the protections for retail and commercial tenants. The Retail and Other Commercial Leases (COVID-19) Regulation (No 2) 2020 came into effect on 24 October 2020 and extends the “prescribed period” for the protections to 31 December 2020. Like the expired regulations, the new regulations adopt the National Cabinet’s Mandatory Code of Conduct – SME Commercial Leasing Principles, created on 7 April 2020, which establishes guidelines for commercial landlords and tenants to negotiate for appropriate rent relief for “impacted lessees”, being essentially commercial tenants whose businesses qualify for the Federal Government’s JobKeeper payments. Like the expired regulations, the new regulations define certain “prescribed actions” by commercial landlords, which are prohibited during the prescribed period in relation to impacted lessees. The regulations also make available mediation with the NSW Small Business Commissioner for landlords and tenants who have difficulty in reaching agreement on the…

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Retail tenants and relief against forfeiture during COVID-19

If a tenant breaches a lease for non-payment of rent, there is a fundamental breach which gives a landlord the right to terminate the lease and take possession of the premises. However, a tenant has the right to apply to the court for an order restraining the landlord from doing so, otherwise known as relief against forfeiture. In the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, courts had yet to redefine the criteria used to award a tenant protection from the re-entry by their landlord. The High Court has previously applied a flexible approach to the instances where relief against forfeiture has been granted. However, how such principles that grant relief against forfeiture operate alongside constantly changing COVID-19 rules and regulations has been unclear. Would the courts extend the tenant’s rights and apply the right to relief more liberally? Sneakerboy Retail Pty Ltd v Georges Properties Pty Ltd [2020] NSWSC 996, decided by Justice Robb on 31 July 2020, goes someway to providing a list of considerations that clarify this issue in the current global health crisis. Background On…

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Changes to Residential Tenancy Laws effective from 23 March 2020.

Residential Tenancy laws govern the tenant’s renting experience, while contemporaneously ensuring that Landlords can effectively manage their properties. The changes effected, seek to circumvent disputes arising over repairs and maintenance, increase protection and certainty for tenants and to clarify the rights and obligations of tenant and landlord parties.

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