The WA State Government has announced today its decision to extend the “emergency period” under the Commercial Tenancies (COVID-19 Response) Act 2020 (WA) and associated Regulations, for a further 6 months.
This means that the existing COVID-19 commercial tenancy laws in WA which were due to expire on 29 September 2020, including the moratorium on evictions, freeze on rent increases and the WA Code of conduct for rent relief negotiations, will continue to apply until 28 March 2021.
After 29 September 2020, the protections will be refined to apply only to tenants who are continuing to experience financial hardship as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, and are eligible for the Commonwealth Government’s revised JobKeeper program.
From 30 September 2020, if a tenant’s business improves such that they are no longer eligible for JobKeeper or their loss in turnover is less than 30 per cent, then the WA Code will no longer apply to that tenant.
These proposed changes will be achieved through regulations which are currently being drafted.
An eligible tenant can request their landlord to continue existing rent relief arrangements or renegotiate rent relief for the period after 29 September 2020. To demonstrate ongoing financial hardship, tenants should provide landlords with details of ongoing loss of turnover as a result of the pandemic, for example, month by month. Any rent relief should be proportionate to a tenant’s reduction in turnover and should be adjusted as turnover changes.
The Small Business Commissioner and the State Administrative Tribunal will continue to provide free dispute resolution services during the extended emergency period.