COVID-19: Update on Commercial Leases

Commercial landlords urged to communicate and form agreements with tenants amid the impact of COVID-19 to business operations.

“There is no rulebook for this. We are in uncharted territory, but the goal should be shared.”

Further to the blog post titled ‘COVID-19: Commercial Leases’ of 26 March 2020, the Prime Minister on 29 March issued another statement in which he supported the premise outlined by us of landlords and tenants negotiating terms which could see them retain their current lease and ensure business viability for both the landlord and tenant upon their recovery from COVID-19 impositions.

Landlords are implored to consider the long term benefit of working with their tenants and banks so that their tenant is “a business that can reopen on the other side, not weighed down by excessive debts because of rental arrears” and the landlord keeps the premises filled.

Whilst a moratorium on evictions has been imposed for the next six months, other specific Government provisions are yet to be put in place however, this should not prevent or discourage any landlords or tenants from beginning such conversations. The message was straightforward “We need you to sit down, talk to each other and work this out”. In order for landlords to partake in these conversations, the Prime Minister has also stated that both State and Federal Treasurers “will be working on measures that will be encouraging… cooperative activity between banks, between tenants and between landlords”.

If you need assistance to open the dialogue between you, your tenant and your bank, Symoane Mercurio has significant expertise in dealing with commercial leases and as an accredited mediator, can assist with those negotiations. Our Property and Dispute Resolution teams are specialists in commercial leasing issues and are also here to assist – you can Contact Us here.

This publication has been prepared for general guidance on matters of interest only and does not constitute professional legal advice. You should not act upon the information contained in this publication without obtaining specific professional legal advice. No representation or warranty (express or implied) is given as to the accuracy or completeness of the information contained in this publication and to the extent permitted by law, Cowell Clarke does not accept or assume any liability, responsibility or duty of care for any consequences of you or anyone else acting or refraining to act in relation on the information contained in this publication or for any decision based on it.

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