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MM COVID-19 Update: New measures to protect tenants in NSW

The NSW Government moved last night to bring in new protections for tenants of residential, commercial and retail properties in light of the COVID-19 Crisis.

The NSW Legislative Council has passed amendments to both the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (NSW) and the Retail Leases Act 1994 (NSW) as a result of the COVID-19 Legislation Amendment (Emergency Measures) Bill 2020 (COVID-19 Bill).

As of 7pm on Friday 27th March 2020 these amendments are currently awaiting the required Royal Assent but given the support from both houses of the NSW Parliament and that the proposed amendments are aimed to protect the health, safety and welfare of NSW citizens; it is reasonable to expect an announcement from the National Cabinet and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian in the coming hours.

What we can expect from the new legislation:

Without the benefit of an official announcement, residential and commercial/retail tenants can expect temporary protection from eviction. Specifically, we can expect that temporary regulations will be made prohibiting a landlord/owner/proprietor from:Recovering possession of premises from a tenant or resident of the premises;Terminating any sort of tenancy arrangement (such as a residential tenancy agreement, retail or commercial lease), occupancy agreement or site agreement;Regulating or preventing the exercise of enforcement of another right of a landlord/owner/proprietor relating to the premises; andExempt a tenant/resident/home owner from the operation of a provision of a relevant Act.Of course, we will need to examine the terms of any announcement and see whether, for example, it applies uniformly to residential, retail and commercial leases, or the sectors to which it does apply.

The team at Madison Marcus have already been receiving several enquiries in relation to rental abatement requests and the prospect of these legislative changes coming into effect.

Our experts are closely monitoring developments relating to the new regulations that are imminent and we will provide a full summary following the impending announcement.

Please click here for a summary of other important COVID-19 developments for Australians, 27 March 2019. 
There are growing challenges everyday being experienced by businesses and individuals as result of COVID-19.

There are important emergency changes to legislation and Government relief packages which are being put forward on regular basis.

Staying abreast of these changes and most importantly understanding how best to apply these to your individual circumstances will ultimately define the best way your business should be looking to reset in these difficult times. 

Madison Marcus’ experts are closely monitoring developments during the COVID-19 Crisis and how they will impact our clients. We have summarised the key  legislative developments that have occurred this week, 23-27 March 2020, below: 

1. Employment Law
Australian employment laws are already confusing for both employers and employees. Under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), an employee can be stood down without pay if they cannot be usefully employed because of a stoppage of work for any cause for which the employer cannot reasonably be held responsible.

This is largely an unprecedent area, however if you’re an employer with multiple staff facing closure or a large downturn, you may be able to rely on these provisions if they are directly related to COVID 19. Employees who are stood down during this period may also be eligible for Federal Government relief.

 2. Debt Recovery/Insolvency LawsDirectors have also been given reprieve in the relaxation of insolvent trading laws for the next six months.21 days to 6 months.Recent changes implemented by the economic stimulus package have increased the threshold for statutory demands ($2,000.00) and bankruptcy notices ($5,000.00) to $20,000.00 respectively. There has been an increase in the time period for compliance on all demands from 21 days to 6 months.
 If the Government restrictions have caused your cash flow to go into a downward spiral – this will give Directors a 6 month opportunity to restructure and reset without the fear of trading while insolvent.

3. Construction Contracts
While the immediate future for the construction industry is uncertain, if there is a suspension of works as result of Government restrictions both the Principal and the contractor should vary the contract so there is minimal impact on both parties – balancing large workforces during this period will require strategic thought.

Future contracts should be drafted with special provisions to ensure maximum protection in times of uncertainty.

 4. Insurance
Seek our professional assistance to review any insurance policy to understand whether you would be eligible to rely on the policy, in particular the Business Interruption policy.

Our Firm will be making some very important announcements in the media regarding how best tackle this issue if your policy has been rejected.

5. Mortgage Repayments
A number of the banks are assisting with the deferment of repayments for households and businesses. The large banks are accepting a number of hardship applications from customers.
The expert team at Madison Marcus are equipped to handle all of your legal enquiries in relation to the COVID-19 Crisis. 
Please contact our team by 
clicking here  or by calling our free hotline on 131 Law (131 529).


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