State and territory governments are taking steps to implement the commercial tenancy code of conduct and establish measures to support property owners, including land tax relief. We review the state of play around the country.
New South Wales
New regulations have been published to give immediate effect to the NSW Government’s Covid-19 rental relief measures.
The NSW Government’s package of support for tenants and landlords includes up to $440 million in land tax relief announced on 13 April, to be split approximately 50:50 between the commercial and residential sectors.
The NSW Small Business Commission will be bolstered with extra staff and an injection of $10 million to deliver increased mediation and advisory services.
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet has promised land tax relief will be available within weeks, with landlords also able to access a further land tax deferral for any outstanding amounts for a three-month period if they have claimed the land tax concession.
The commercial lease policy will apply to business tenants with a turnover of less than $50 million that experience a 30 per cent (or more) reduction in revenue as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. If circumstances have not significantly changed, tenants still need to fulfil the terms of their agreements.
It is expected eligible landlords will be able to apply for land tax rebates from Service NSW from 4 May.
The Queensland Parliament passed the new Covid-19 Emergency Response Bill 2020 last week.
This provides the regulation-making power to allow for the implementation of the National Cabinet’s code of conduct for commercial leases.
The Queensland Parliament also passed the Appropriation (Covid-19) Bill 2020 which delivers more than $4 billion of state government relief and stimulus measures. This includes $400 million in land tax relief, $2.5 billion for Queensland businesses, and an initial $27.5 million to assist local government, business and industry with recovery and resilience.
The land tax measures include a land tax rebate reducing land tax liabilities by 25 per cent for eligible properties for the 2019-20 assessment year, a waiver of the two per cent land tax foreign surcharge for foreign entities for the 2019-20 assessment year, and a three-month deferral of land tax liabilities for the 2020-21 assessment year.
The South Australian Government has announced a 25 per cent reduction on FY20 land tax bills, as long as relief is passed onto tenants. The scheme is modelled on similar packages in New South Wales and Victoria.
Eligible landlords with an outstanding FY20 land tax liability will have any remaining land tax payable deferred for up to six months until around December. Landlords who have already paid their FY20 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.
Landlords must demonstrate they have provided the minimum required level of rent relief to tenants since 30 March and/or will provide such relief to tenants up to and including 30 October 2020.
More details about which landlords are considered 'eligible' under the scheme is still forthcoming. Applications for the land tax relief measure are able to be submitted until the end of June online.
The WA Government announced a $100 million land tax relief package will be available for landlords who waive rent and outgoings for at least three months from 1 March for small business tenants.
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.
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.
Commercial landlords will be able to apply to the Small Business Development Commission for land tax relief from 1 May 2020.
More information on land tax assistance for landlords is available online.
The Victorian Parliament has passed the Covid-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) Bill 2020, making a range of changes to acts and regulations.
The bill creates regulatory powers to implement the National Cabinet code of conduct and contains provisions for residential tenancies and amendments to various state acts that allow key functions to continue online, such as planning applications and local council meetings.
The regulations have not yet been released or gazetted. The Victorian Government says the regulations are intended to implement the code and not go beyond the code.
The government is also legislating land tax relief. Where a landlord provides tenants impacted by Covid-19 with rent relief, they will be eligible for a 25 per cent discount on land tax, while any remaining land tax can be deferred until March 2021.
Land tax relief will be available from 1 May through the State Revenue Office’s ‘My Land Tax’ service.
The Tasmanian Parliament will consider a standalone bill this week to give effect to the national code of conduct. The Property Council is engaged with the government on the terms of the bill and proposed regulations.
The Tasmanian Government has previously announced its plans for land tax waivers for commercial property owners for the 2020-21 financial year where their business has been impacted by Covid-19.
The Northern Territory Parliament introduced the Residential Tenancies Legislation Amendment Act 2020 last week. The Bill was passed by Parliament bringing in changes to tenancies legislation for the duration of the emergency declaration and implement additional measures to support Territory landlords and tenants adversely affected by Covid-19.
Work continues on the implementation of the commercial tenancy code of conduct and proposed relief measures for property owners.
Australian Capital Territory
The ACT Government will implement the code by ministerial declaration through enabling legislation, the Covid Emergency Response Act 2020. It will feature a moratorium on evictions on leases by landlords for non--payment of rent, but requires both parties to show they had engaged in good faith. Rates relief will be linked to agreement to the code or having already reached an agreement. The proportionality principle agreed in the national code will be applied.
How are tenants, landlords, governments and financiers rising to the challenge following the release of the national code of conduct? Hear from our leaders as they outline their secrets to surviving Covid-19.