NSW extends rent relief for business turning over under $5m

The NSW government has extended the code of conduct giving rent deferrals and waivers to commercial tenants with turnover of less than $5 million.

The two-month extension of the policy first implemented in 2020 lasts until 13 March and 50 per cent of any rent relief must be in the form of a rent waiver with the remainder a rent deferral.

The NSW government will announce the extension on Friday but it is already clear on the website of the state’s small business commissioner.

The code implemented at state level has been extended in different jurisdictions, but the Property Council of Australia said NSW was among the last states to do so and it was “extraordinary” that the state would retain the measure when vaccination rates were over 95 per cent in the state.

“This decision should be seen for what it is: government intervention into legal contracts and a compulsory transfer of income from one business to another,” said Luke Acherstraat, the council’s NSW executive director.

“This measure is not government support but government intervention into commercial contracts. It is the legislated transfer of income between private entities.”

Challenges facing small and medium-sized businesses that were beneficiaries of the code included labour shortages, supply chain reliability and reduced foot traffic, but none of these were the fault of the landlord, he said.

Implementing the code cost landlords nationally $15 billion in 2020 alone, Mr Acherstraat said.

In Victoria, the code – which has a higher threshold for qualifying tenants of $50 million – is due to expire on Friday.

The council’s Victorian executive director Danni Hunter said she was concerned the state government would also announce an extension.

“There is still a hesitancy from government to do the heavy lifting,” Ms Hunter said.

“They’re relying on one part of the economy to do the heavy lifting for another. That isn’t going to benefit Victoria’s recovery in the long run at all. We do have the most onerous regime in the country.”

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