THE Western Australian government has new code of conduct which will provide a framework for rent relief negotiations between commercial tenants and landlords, impacted by COVID-19.
The code applies to small businesses, including retail stores, with an annual turnover of less than $50 million and which qualify for the JobKeeper scheme or have experienced a decline in turnover of 30% or more during the emergency period (six months from March 30). Small charities only need to show a 15% reduction in turnover.
The code was developed by Consumer Protection as part of the regulations of the Commercial Tenancies (COVID-19 Response) Act 2020 and outlines a process for tenants to request rent relief and landlords are required to:
- Respond to written requests from tenants in 14 days;
- Offer relief at least proportionate to the reduction in turnover that the business has suffered; and
- Provide at least half of that rent relief as a waiver, with the rest to be either deferred or waived.
Commerce Minister John Quigley said the code complements a moratorium on commercial tenancy evictions for non-payment of rent and the setting aside of $100 million in the COVID-19 stimulus package for land tax relief grants to be paid to certain commercial landlords in exchange for rent relief given to small businesses.
“As the Minister who oversees Consumer Protection I would like to thank all of the stakeholders who participated in the consultation during the code’s development. These included many individuals who wrote to me and other members of the Government and business sector representative organisations,” he said.
Small Business Minister Paul Papalia said many WA businesses are doing it tough and this code will assist them to negotiate rent relief with their landlords and come out the other side of the COVID pandemic with their business intact.
“Commercial landlords and tenants are urged to enter into negotiations with a collaborative attitude to reach mutually agreeable outcomes to contribute to the survival of small businesses in Western Australia during the emergency period.” Papalia said.