If you are a commercial landlord or tenant in WA, then as you likely know, earlier this year the WA State Government passed legislation relating to commercial tenancies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
That legislation applies to certain ‘small commercial leases’ which is a defined term covering a wide range of premises (including retail stores) leased by small to medium sized businesses, as well as incorporated associations.
The legislation affords protections to tenants (which are currently set to expire on 30 September 2020) who have a small commercial lease with an annual turnover of less than $50 million and qualify for JobKeeper, or who have experienced a decline in turnover of 30 per cent or more during the six months from 30 March 2020. Those protections included (amongst other things) a moratorium on evictions due to non-payment of rent and a freeze on rent increases.
Further, the legislation requires both tenants and landlords to negotiate any rent reductions or other changes to lease conditions in good faith. Ultimately, if an agreement cannot be reached then either side can apply to the Small Business Commissioner to mediate or conciliate and failing resolution at that stage, disputes can then be taken to the State Administrative Tribunal for determination.