Small businesses struggling to recover after the protracted lockdowns triggered by the COVID Delta variant can continue to negotiate rent reductions with their landlords until after the new year, the NSW government has announced.
The rent relief provisions under the Retail and Other Commercial Leases (COVID-19) Regulation 2021 aim to provide ongoing support for small businesses with a turnover of less than $5 million over the Christmas and new year period.
Under the scheme, landlords must offer a small reduction in rent that matches the decline in turnover of their eligible small commercial and retail tenants. At least 50 per cent of the reduced rent must be offered in the form of a waiver, with the remaining amount deferred.
Small commercial and retail tenants that would have continued to qualify for JobSaver or the Micro-business Grant after 30 November 2021, will remain eligible for rent relief negotiations with their landlords, the NSW government explained.
To support landlords, the NSW government also rolled out the Commercial Landlord Hardship Fund, providing small commercial or retail landlords with up to $3,000 each month for every property they provide rent relief on.
However, landlords will still be required to negotiate rent relief with eligible commercial and retail tenants that are seeing a turnover decline of 30 per cent or more.
Landlords can also access discounts on land tax, if they have lowered their tenants’ rent between 1 July and 31 December 2021.
Commenting on the current business climate post-lockdowns, Finance and Small Business Minister Damien Tudehope said: “Lockdown may be over but there are still small businesses, particularly in our CBDs, that are facing a slower recovery and are continuing to do it tough.”
“As the state continues to transition out of lockdown, 97 per cent of NSW businesses will retain access to COVID-19 rent relief provisions if they continue to experience a significant decline in turnover.”
The rent relief scheme was first introduced on 24 April 2020, as a response to the impact of the first wave of COVID-19 on the economy. In the wake of the Delta coronavirus outbreak, the program was extended until August this year.
In response to Sydney’s prolonged lockdown, the NSW government decided to extend the scheme again, allowing businesses to claim reductions in rent until 13 January 2022.