Council taking COVID rent relief requests

By Olivia Duffey

Small to medium sized businesses can now seek a rent waiver or deferral to help mitigate the impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic.

It is a part of the Mandatory Code of Conduct for small to medium enterprise commercial tenancies, introduced by the National Cabinet.

It outlines a set of ‘‘good faith leasing principles’’ for commercial tenancies, and applies to tenants that are a small to medium sized business with an annual turnover of up to $50 million and eligible for the JobKeeper payment.

It means eligible businesses finding it difficult to meet lease commitments, such as rental payments, due to the Coronavirus pandemic may be able to negotiate the terms of their lease with the landlord.

Edward River Council has so far received two formal requests for rent relief from its tenants — a local accommodation provider and a Deniliquin Airport tenant.

Council has about 60 leases and agreements in place across a range of properties.

‘‘We have only had two approach us under the mandatory code but we know other businesses are hurting and could be eligible,’’ interim general manager John Rayner said.

‘‘They come under the code because their businesses have been badly affected by Coronavirus.

‘‘Now businesses just need to apply.’’

Council’s tenants seeking rent relief would need to make written application citing reasons for the request. They must also provide evidence of a reduction in trade leading to a reduction in revenue during the pandemic period.

Council may also seek advice on whether the tenant has applied for and received the JobKeeper support.