Extension of COVID-19 regulations re commercial & residential tenancies


The 
COVID-19 Emergency Response (Expiry and Rent) Amendment Bill 2020, which extends the operation of the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act 2020 (Act) was introduced to Parliament on 8 September 2020.  The Bill extends the operation of section 7 of the Act to 28 March 2021 to align with the Commonwealth JobKeeper scheme, which has been extended over two periods, from 28 September to 3 January 2021 and 4 January 2021 to 28 March 2021.

The COVID-19 Emergency Response (Commercial Leases No 2) (Prescribed Period) Variation Regulations will be made upon passage of the Bill.  It is intended the Regulations will commence on 1 October 2020 and expire on 3 January 2021. 

All of the provisions of the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act 2020 are extended (as amended) except the following provisions that have been expired:

Section

Subject

8(1)(c)

Provisions providing that inspections of residential tenancies can only occur via AV unless in exceptional circumstances.

10(1)(i)

Provisions that provide that inspections of supported residential facilities may only occur via electronic means unless exceptional circumstances.

11

Provisions applying to certain water and sewerage charges for sporting clubs.

12

Treasurer’s instructions relating to financial and audit requirements.

13

Audits by the Auditor-General

15

Modification of requirements relating to laying reports before Parliament.

 

Section 7 of the Act and the associated regulations prohibit certain prescribed actions, including evictions, by lessors against lessees who have less than $50 million annual turnover and who are suffering financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, require parties to a commercial lease to make a genuine attempt to negotiate in good faith the rent payable and other terms of a commercial lease, establish a mediation regime by the Small Business Commissioner in relation to disputes, and establish a resolution regime for disputes through the Magistrates Court.

The Act and regulations are South Australia’s response to the Mandatory Code of Conduct – SME Commercial Leasing Principles During COVID-19 published by National Cabinet on 7 April 2020. 

The variation regulations continue the protections for affected lessees and will enable lessees who are suffering financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic on 1 October to renegotiate certain agreements made under the previous regulations or negotiate new agreements or seek court determinations as necessary.