More state governments are pledging to support tenants and landlords through the coronavirus pandemic by reforming residential and commercial tenancy law.
South Australia and Western Australia have followed on from NSW and Victoria in announcing further stimulus measures to help their commercial tenants by easing the burden on landlords.
SA has announced a further $50 million in stimulus measures, under which landlords will be offered a 25 per cent reduction on their 2019–20 land tax liability if they pass on the full benefit to their tenants impacted by COVID-19 restrictions.
According to the government, eligible landlords with an outstanding 2019–20 land tax liability will see any remaining land tax payable deferred for up to six months until around December.
Moreover, taxpayers who have already paid their 2019–20 land tax liability and are eligible for relief under this scheme will be issued with a 25 per cent land tax refund on eligible properties.
Delving into eligibility, the SA government said eligible landlords are those who can demonstrate that they have provided the “minimum level of rent relief” to tenants since 30 March, and/or they will provide such relief up to and including 30 October.
“This will be a powerful shot in the arm for local businesses and residential tenants who have been suffering a significant downturn in trade and income as a result of COVID-19 and the necessary restrictions imposed to help limit its spread,” the state’s treasurer, Rob Lucas, said.
“By helping landlords, we help their tenants — and, in turn, ensure our economy is best placed to bounce back more rapidly from this once-in-a-century crisis.”
The latest measure is specifically tailored to SME commercial tenants including gyms, restaurants, cafés, beauty salons and hairdressers.
Similarly, WA has slated $100 million in land tax relief grants to commercial landlords who reduce rent for small-business tenants impacted by COVID-19 as part of its latest $154.5 million relief package.
To be eligible, commercial landlords must provide rent relief that equates to a minimum of three months’ rent and freeze outgoings to small businesses that have suffered at least a 30 per cent reduction in turnover due to COVID-19.
Grants equivalent to 25 per cent of the landlord’s land tax bill for 2019–20 for the property in which an eligible tenant is provided relief will be paid to landlords.
The state explained that commercial rent relief grants will be administered through the Small Business Development Corporation, with applications opening on 1 May 2020.
Treasurer Ben Wyatt confirmed the grants will be available on a first-come, first-served basis to encourage landlords to negotiate early with tenants who are doing it tough as a result of COVID-19.
“We’ve opted to provide targeted assistance that supports both tenants and landlords of commercial and residential properties,” Mr Wyatt said.
The state’s newest measure complements the introduction of a six-month freeze on rent increases, the moratorium on evictions from 30 March 2020 and the $25 million small-business rent relief package announced last month.
Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
28 April 2020