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The National Retail Association (NRA) has welcomed the announcement of a Mandatory Code of Conduct for retail leasing but believes there is more to be done on this front to support retailers.

The NRA has written to all states and territories to advocate for ideal outcomes and will advise updates as they occur. The NRA has noted that the Victorian, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australian governments have proposed urgent legislation to be brought to Parliament to support tenants and landlords through the pandemic.

The proposed measures are as follows:

Victoria

  • Six-month band on evictions for the non-payment of rent for commercial tenancies involving small and medium-sized business;
  • Six-month ban for rental increases on residential and commercial properties for a six-month period;
  • 25% on land tax for landlords who provide rent relief to impacted tenants; and
  • Deferring remaining land tax to March 2021 for those same landlords.

New South Wales

The government will give effect to the Code of Conduct which will operate for a temporary period during the pandemic and include the following:

  • Landlords must negotiate rent relief agreements with tenants in financial distress due to COVID-19 by applying the leading principles in the Code;
  • A ban on the termination of a lease for non-payment of rent;
  • A freeze in rent increases;
  • Up to 25% land tax concession for landlords who pass savings on to tenants through a rent reduction; and
  • A further land tax deferral for any outstanding amounts for a three-month period for any landlords who can claim the land tax concession

Queensland

Landlords must negotiate rent relief agreements with tenants in financial distress due to COVID-19 by applying the leasing principles in the Code;

  • Three-month rebate of land tax for 2019-2020 landlords who provide rent relief for eligible commercial tenants; and
  • Three-month deferral of land tax 2020-21 for landlords who provide rent relief.

Western Australia

The Commercial Tenancies (COVID-19 Response) Bill 2020 will introduce:

  • A six-month moratorium on evictions due to non-payment of rent;
  • A freeze on rent increases;
  • Restrictions on penalties for tenants who do not trade or reduced their trading hours;
  • Prohibitions on charging interest on rent arrears;
  • The introduction of a dispute resolution process; and
  • The ability for government to prescribe a code of conduct