RETAIL LEASES UPDATE – New Bill amends COVID-19 provisions

Following from the Premier’s announcement, on the 3 September 2020 the Victorian Government introduced the COVID-19 Commercial and Residential Tenancies Legislation Amendment (Extension) Bill 2020 (Bill).  A current version of the bill can be found here.

In summary, the Bill intends to amend the COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) Act 2020 (Act) as follows:

  • extend the application of that Act until 26 April 2021;
  • broaden the meaning of “eligible lease” within the Act;
  • expand the scope of the COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measure) (Commercial Leases and Licences) Regulations 2020 (Regulations) which can be made under the Act when dealing with rent relief disputes;  and
  • extend the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 temporary COVID-19 measures to 28 March 2021, or a later date as may be fixed by the Governor in Council.

Meaning of “Eligible Lease” expanded

The Bill proposes to change the definition of ‘eligible lease‘ which is currently defined under s13 of the Act as, in its essence, that the tenant has to be an SME and an employer that is eligible for and a participant in JobKeeper. The Bill removed the SME requirement and the Jobkeeper requirement and allows the definition of ‘eligible lease’ to be prescribed by the Regulations.

Scope of the Regulations expanded

The Bill proposes to expand the scope of the Regulations, including introducing greater power to create binding orders directing landlords to give rent relief to tenants.

The Bill enables regulations to be made with respect to:

  • the making of binding regarding rent relief for tenants;
  • the process for rent relief applications by tenants;
  • specifying the review and enforcement of binding orders by VCAT in the cases of non-compliance; and
  • the admissibility in evidence in a proceeding VCAT or a court of specified material relating to mediation.

We note however that the proposed new provisions are ones that enable regulations to be made on those matters. This means that the impact of this will depend on what amendments are ultimately made to the Regulations under the Act.  

Gladwin Legal are experts in Retail Leases and can assist in ensuring that your current and future leases will comply with any of these amendments.  If you would like to know how we can help, please do not hesitate to contact us at  or give us a call on 1300 033 934 for a no-obligation quote.