Changes to property leasing – new COVID-19 Government regulation

The Tasmanian Government has introduced the COVID-19 Disease Emergency (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2020The purpose of the Act is to reduce hardship suffered by members of the public as a result of COVID-19.

Commercial leases

Financial Hardship Provisions under the Act provide the Minister with the power to declare that despite any provision in a lease, within the Emergency Period:

  • a lease (within a class of leases) must not be terminated; and
  • the rent payable may not be increased in the circumstances set out in the notice.

The Minister has not yet declared this provision applies to any particular leases or class of lease – **More to come on this once the Minister declares which leases will be affected.

Residential leases

The Tasmanian Government has also introduced amendments to the Residential Tenancy Act 1997 to assist those tenants who have suffered financial hardship due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The amendments include:

  • a moratorium on issuing a Notice to Vacate to tenants if they fail to pay rent during the Emergency Period. The Government is advising that tenants should continue to pay rent when they are able, as the Emergency Period amendments do not allow for a rent holiday; and
  • allowing an owner or tenant to apply for an order declaring that a fixed term lease be terminated if the continuation of that lease would result in severe hardship to the owner or tenant.

Emergency Period

The Emergency Period is from 27 March 2020 to 25 July 2020. The Minister may extend the Emergency Period for a period of 90 days and may make as many orders to extend the Emergency Period as the Minister thinks is reasonable, to mitigate the hardship caused or likely to be caused.

If you have any queries or would like any further information about this article, please contact:

David Shelley
Managing Principal
M: 0427 183 217

Daniel Morgan
M: 0438 436 968

Published: 3 April 2020

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