PM backs moratorium on commercial and residential property evictions

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PRIME Minister Scott Morrison has strongly backed a moratorium on evictions of distressed commercial and residential tenants, calling on tenants, landlords and banks to reach a solution.

Following a meeting of national cabinet, Morrison supported a ban on evictions for at least six months, which will be announced and implemented by the state and territory governments.

The PM said the plan will ensure that tenants will not be saddled with debt and rental arrears when the Australian economy emerges on the other side of the coronavirus.

“The national cabinet also considered this evening issues relating to commercial tenancies as well as residential tenancies and they agreed a series of principles which I will release through the statement. The most significant of those is that state and territories will be moving to put a moratorium on evictions of persons as a result of financial distress if they are unable to meet their commitments, and so there would be a moratorium on evictions for the next six months under those rental arrangements.”

In the commercial property market, Morrison said that the ban will ensure that landlords will have a tenant at the end of the six months period, businesses can reopen and start hiring, ensuring Australia bounces back strongly.

“Now, there is a lot more work to be done here and my message to tenants, particularly commercial tenants, and commercial landlords, is a very straightforward one – we need you to sit down, talk to each other and work this out about looking at the businesses which have been closed, businesses that may have had a significant reduction in their revenues.

“We need landlords and tenants to sit down and come up with arrangements that enable them to get through this crisis so on the other side, the landlord has a tenant which is a business that can pay rent, and the business is a business that can re-emerge on the other side of this and be able to go on and employ people on the other side of these arrangements,”

Morrison said the plan also needs the participation of the banks, hinting at the banks potentially freezing mortgage repayments on commercial properties, should the landlord experience financial hardship.

Earlier this month banks announced six months freeze on mortgage repayments for distressed home owners.

“We’re asking businesses to adapt to what is not a usual set of circumstances. They must be sustainable because they will run, for, we believe, at least six months and we want to be able to get everybody through. So we are seeking their support. We will have more to say about commercial tenancies in the days ahead.” Morrison said.

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