Lucy Baker


Is the emergency period extension a fair approach?

Parliament House
As you may be aware, the State government announced its extension of the emergency relief and provisions that were introduced earlier this year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Thursday 10 September, Commerce Minister, John Quigley announced the emergency period has been extended to Sunday 28 March 2021; with some revisions and various relief measures expected to continue to apply up until this date.

The Act restricts commercial landlords from evicting tenants who are not meeting their rental payment obligations where the tenant can prove that their turnover has reduced by 30% or more. However from the end of September it is hoped that existing laws, including the moratorium on evictions, freeze on rent rises and the Code of Conduct for small business rent relief negotiations will apply "in a more targeted manner", as indicated by the State Government.

The Property Council of WA and other industry bodies have expressed concerns around this extension, given WA’s current economic performance and its positive outlook, and the generous concessions paid to WA businesses thus far.

Christine Izydorski, Manager of Realmark Commercial’s Property Management Division commented on how this impacts WA landlords.

“The property management company plays a key role in continuing to protect their landlord’s asset following the announcement of this extension,” she commented.

“We’re finding in some situations that tenants are requesting rent relief, however, aren’t able to present financials.

“In this scenario, we’re putting in every effort to collate the information needed for our landlords to make a decision around any rental arrangements or other concessions that they may agree to at this time. If the tenant is unable to provide sufficient information, the dispute is referred to the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT).

“In our experience to date, SAT is taking a very fair and measured approach to each case, which is protecting landlords from unfortunate opportunism, while providing support to tenants who may be facing financial hardship,” said Christine.

She also expressed that the process of evaluation must be fluid and ongoing.

“These are unpredictable times and financials may continue to fluctuate in response to the situation. A proactive approach to assessments will protect landlords from losing out,” Christine said.

There’s been a strong response from the industry, however there’s some positive in that there’s measures in place while government relief comes to an end or is significantly reduced for some businesses throughout September – providing a safety net to SMEs who may still be facing hardship.

We have found generally our landlords and tenants have been working together to agree solutions in these unprecedented times and are hopeful about improving conditions.

The Property Council of Australia, whilst expressing concern about the extension also reiterated a commitment to protecting landlords from tenants who are actively limiting trade or are refusing to pay rent where they’re experiencing good trading conditions.

The Council will also continue to advocate for further support for landlords in relation to land tax relief, which has been more generous in other Australian States.

You can view this communication from the Property Council here.

Realmark Commercial continues to implement strong processes to provide open and ongoing communication to ensure we support our landlords as best we can during these ever-changing times. We will wait to see what the new ‘targeted approach’ under the new Regulations will provide, and keep you informed on these changes.

Over 30 years, Realmark’s dedicated and experienced team have operated through six cycles in the property market and are here to support you with any property management, sales or leasing enquiries you may have.

The above is general in nature. We encourage all our landlords to seek legal advice and advice from your accountant in regards to your unique situation in relation to the above laws and other government support measures.
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