Commercial Tenancies

The Commercial Tenancies Relief Scheme supports business tenants, commercial property landlords and owner-operators significantly affected by COVID-19.

The Scheme comprises of commercial leasing principles and a rates relief scheme. It:

  • requires landlords to negotiate in good faith with tenants who have:
    • qualified for the Commonwealth JobKeeper program; and
    • who cannot afford to pay their rent, or keep up regular business hours due to the impacts of COVID-19

before , terminating the lease or taking other adverse action against the tenant;

  • encourages landlords and tenants to discuss alternative lease arrangements based on the principles within the National Code of Conduct  (the National Code);
  • allows property owners to apply for rebates on their general rates bill if they reduce rent for tenants significantly affected by COVID-19 from 1 April 2020 for six months; and
  • provides the highest level of support to landlords and owner-operators suffering greater financial hardship.

If a tenants’ business income is significantly impacted by COVID-19 they should discuss alternative rental payment arrangements with their landlord in line with the National Code principles. Those unable to pay but not significantly impacted by COVID-19 must continue to pay rent.

Commercial tenants

If you own a business and are finding it difficult to meet your rental payments due to COVID-19, you can request a rent reduction from your landlord.

If you have qualified for the Commonwealth JobKeeper program and have turnover of less than $50 million a year, your landlord must negotiate with you about your rent and other terms of your lease before taking action against you for failing to pay rent.

This is now a requirement for landlords under the Leases (Commercial and Retail) Emergency Response Declaration 2020.

The Declaration requires landlords to engage in good faith negotiations with eligible tenants having regard to the leasing principles set out in the National Code.

The ACT Government has introduced this requirement so that these important business relationships can continue, despite the impacts of COVID-19.

For a complete breakdown of the new requirements and who they apply to see the ACT Government Guidance Note.

Requesting a rent reduction

To request a rent reduction:

  • Review the Commercial Leases Declaration and the guidance notes to understand the new requirements;
  • Contact your landlord in writing to request a meeting to negotiate a rent reduction based on the National Code;
  • Prepare evidence of your eligibility; and
  • Negotiate your new rent arrangements.

You can contact the Local Business Commissioner for support at any point in the negotiation.

COVID-19 Local Business Commissioner

The COVID-19 Local Business Commissioner is working with the ACT business community to implement the following:

  • working with commercial tenants and landlords to mediate changes to commercial lease arrangements;
  • providing advice to the ACT Government on systemic issues facing the business community in the ACT as a result of COVID-19; and
  • referring individual businesses that require assistance to relevant government support.

This service is voluntary, confidential and free. Read the Instrument of Appointment for the full terms of reference. Contact the Commissioner to find out how to access this free service.

Email: CIE@act.gov.au
Phone: (02) 6207 8976

Landlord and owner operators

If your tenant has qualified for the JobKeeper program and cannot pay rent due to the impacts of COVID-19, you must negotiate in good faith with regard to the principles of the National Code before you can terminate an existing lease, or take other adverse action against the tenant. These principles address matters of rental reduction and consideration of your tenant's financial circumstances.

This is now an obligation for landlords under the Leases (Commercial and Retail) Emergency Response Declaration 2020. It applies where commercial tenants have qualified for the Commonwealth JobKeeper program and have turnover of less than $50 million a year.

For a complete breakdown of the new requirements and who they apply to  see the ACT Government Guidance Note.

If you offer, or have offered, to reduce your tenant’s rent due to COVID-19 you may be eligible to apply for a rebate on your commercial rates from 1 April 2020 for six months.

Owner-operators significantly impacted by COVID-19 can also apply for a rebate, from 1 April 2020 for six months.

A tiered category system was established to ensure business tenants or owner operators suffering the most financial hardship get the highest level of support:

Category 1

Businesses partially affected or unaffected (no more than 30 per cent reduction in business income).

Business tenants should continue to pay rent.

Category 2

Businesses significantly affected (at least 30 per cent reduction in business income) but still operating.

Landlords with business tenants in this category, can receive 25 per cent of any reduction to a tenant’s rent as a rebate from the government. This rebate is capped at $5,000 per quarter (or around $380 per week) or total quarterly rates (whichever is lower).

Category 3

Businesses who have effectively shut-down operations (at least 80 per cent reduction in business income).

Landlords with business tenants in this category can receive 50 per cent of any reduction to a tenant’s rent as a rebate from the government. This rebate is capped at $8,000 per quarter (or around $615 per week) or total quarterly rates (whichever is lower).

Reduce your tenant’s rent and receive the rates rebates

To reduce your tenant’s rent and receive the rates rebate:

  • Review the Commercial Leases Declaration and the guidance notes to understand your obligations and those of your tenant.
  • Contact your tenant in writing to request a meeting to negotiate a rent reduction having regard to the National Code;
  • Review your tenant’s eligibility in line with the tiered category system;
  • Negotiate new rent arrangements with your tenant; and
  • Visit the ACT Revenue Office website to apply.

You can contact the Local Business Commissioner  for support at any point in the negotiation.

Visit the ACT Revenue Office website for more information about rates rebates.

COVID-19 Local Business Commissioner

The COVID-19 Local Business Commissioner is working with the ACT business community to implement the following:

  • working with commercial tenants and landlords to mediate changes to commercial lease arrangements;
  • providing advice to the ACT Government on systemic issues facing the business community in the ACT as a result of COVID-19; and
  • referring individual businesses that require assistance to relevant government support.

Please note the role of the Local Business Commissioner is to assist you to reach a good faith outcome through mediation, it is not to provide legal advice on the matters of parties leasing arrangements.

This service is voluntary, confidential and free. Read the Instrument of Appointment for the full terms of reference. Contact the Commissioner to find out how to access this free service.

Email: CIE@act.gov.au
Phone: (02) 6207 8976

Other assistance for commercial property owners

Find out more about support you will automatically receive and other support you might be eligible for through the ACT Government's Economic Survival Package page.

Download the COVID-19 commercial tenancies and owner-operated businesses fact sheet

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Acknowledgement of Country

We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the ACT, the Ngunnawal people. We acknowledge and respect their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of this city and this region.

Last Updated: July 03 2020