On 29 March 2020, the Prime Minister announced a range of new principles regarding residential and commercial tenancies. The Government has stressed that this is a 'short-term' intervention to assist businesses to hibernate through this crisis.
Cabinet is set to meet again today Monday, 30 March 2020 – so this landscape could (and most likely will) change further.
In summary, the overnight announcement in respect to commercial and residential tenancies was:
• six month moratorium on evictions for tenants experiencing financial distress and are unable to meet their lease commitments due to the impact of COVID-19;
• non-affected tenancies are expected to honour their lease agreements- so 'business as usual' as far as non-affected industries are concerned (although that category is diminishing daily);
• landlords and tenants encouraged to mutually agree rent relief or other variations to their leases impacted by the COVID-19 crisis;
• affected tenants can seek mediation/conciliation and even an early termination of their lease on the grounds of financial distress;
• commercial landlords to pass through any benefits they receive in respect to their properties to the tenants, in proportion to the economic impact caused by COVD-19; and
• all levels of Government to work with the financial sector to further consider assistance mechanisms.
If you require further information or advice, please contact a member of our Real Estate team.