The Government has finally released a code for SME Commerical Leasing Principals during COVID-19.
I have taken excerpts from the code directly. The link to the entire code is here.
In negotiating and enacting appropriate temporary arrangements under this Code, the following leasing principles should be applied as soon as practical on a case-by-case basis:
- Landlords must not terminate leases due to non-payment of rent during the COVID-19 pandemic period (or reasonable subsequent recovery period).
- Tenants must remain committed to the terms of their lease, subject to any amendments to their rental agreement negotiated under the this Code. Material failure to abide by substantive terms of their lease will forfeit any protections provided to the tenant under this Code.
- Landlords must offer tenants proportionate reductions in rent payable in the form of waivers and deferrals of up to 100% of the amount ordinarily payable, on a case-by-case basis, based on the reduction in the tenant’s trade during the COVID-19 pandemic period and a susequent reasonable recovery period.
- Rental waivers must constitute no less than 50% of the total reduction in rent payable under principle #3 above over the COVID-19 pandemic period and should constitute a greater proportion of the total reduction in rent payable in cases where failure to do so would compromise the tenant’s capacity to fulfil their owngoing obligations under the lease agreement. Regard must also be had to the Landlord’s financial ability to provide such additional waivers. Tenants may waive the requirement for a 50% minimum waver by agreement.
- Payment of rental referrals by the tenant must be amortised over the balance of the lease term and for a period of no ness than 24 months, whichever the greater, unless otherwise agreed by the parties.
- Any reduction in statutory charges (eg land tax, council rates) or insurance will be passed on to the tenant in the appropriate proportion applicable under the terms of the lease.
- A Landlord should seek to share any benefit it receives due to deferral of loan payments provided by a financial institution as part of the Australian Bankers Associations’ COVID-19 response, or any other case-by-case deferral of loan repayments offered to the other Landlords, with the tenant in proportionate manner.
- Landlords should where appropriate seek to waive recovery of any other expense (or outgoing payable) by a tenant under lease terms during the period the tenant is not able to trade. Landlords reserve the right to reduce services as required in such circumstances.
- If negotiated arrangements under this Code necessitate repayment, this should occur over an extended period in order to avoid placing an undue financial burden on the tenant. No repayment should commence until the earlier of the COVID-19 pandemic ending (as defined by the Australian Government) or the existing lease expiring, and taking into account a reasonable subsequent recovery period.
- No fees, interest or other charges should be applied with respect to rent waived in principles #3 and #4 above and no fees, charges nor punitive interest may be charged on deferrals in principles #3, #4 and #5 above.
- Landlords must not draw on a tenant’s security for the non-payment of rent (be this a cash bond, bank guarantee or personal guarantee) during the period of the COVID-19 pandemic and/or a reasonable subsequent recovery period.
- The tenant should be provided with an opportunity to extend their lease for an equivalent period of the rent waiver and/or deferral period outlined in item #2 above. This is intended to provide the tenant additional time to trade on existing lease terms during the recovery period after the COVID-19 pandemic concludes.
- Landlords agree to a freeze on rent increases (except for retail leases based on turnover rent) for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic and a reasonable subsequent recovery period notwithstanding any arrangements between the landlord and the tenant.
- Landlords may not apply any prohibition or levy any penalties it tenants reduce opening hours or cease to trade due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
page 3 National Cabinet Mandatory Code of Conduct