Originally introduced by the National Cabinet six months ago in March, the ban on evictions via the Commercial Leasing Regulations were due to expire at the end of September 2020. Commercial tenants who have been impacted by Covid-19 will now get further relief after the Queensland Government recently extended the ban on evictions until the new year.
Under Queensland’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Act 2020, the operational period of the Retail Shop Leases & Other Commercial Leases Regulation 2020 was officially extended by the State Government in September. Queensland's announcement pushing the moratorium on evictions within the commercial space means that any affected business will also be able to apply for and receive assistance under the code extension.
This means that any commercial leaseholders who fall into rent arrears as a direct result of the pandemic won’t have their lease terminated until the new date of 31 December 2020. Leaving out residential tenancies, the latest announcement from the Queensland Government comes as other States have also extended their own eviction protections.
This will continue to have implications on what actions landlords can legally take regarding any commercial tenants who are occupying their premises. The regulatory provisions for both landlords and tenants will remain largely the same, except that landlords will no longer be required to continue offering the 50% rent waiver. On that basis, any reduction in rent that is offered during this extension period can only be in the form of a deferral.
Any agreement reached between landlords and tenants under the Regulation should be documented in writing as a lease variation. If for any reason the parties involved cannot come to an agreement, either one of them can get the matter referred to the Small Business Commissioner and in some specific circumstances to QCAT.