With many businesses and individuals feeling the financial strain stemming from a second lockdown, the Victorian government has unveiled some new support measures to get the State through the pandemic and onto the road of recovery including further land tax relief, extra renter protections and more grant funding.

To ensure that small businesses and the people that run them survive the second lockdown and thrive when the restrictions are lifted, the government has extended the current land tax relief scheme which applies to both commercial and residential tenancies. An increased 50% waiver of the property’s 2020 land tax and a deferral of payment until 31 March 2021 is available to landlords of residential and commercial properties who provide eligible tenants with a 50% or more outright rent waiver for at least 3 months.

If you own the property that you operate your business out of, don’t fret, you won’t miss out on land tax relief. Owner-occupiers of commercial properties can obtain a 25% waiver of the property’s 2020 land tax, and payment of the remaining tax can be deferred to 31 March 2021, provided they meet certain eligibility conditions.

Commercial landlords who apply for this land tax relief must continue to provide rent relief that complies with the requirements of the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme. Further, if you as a landlord have previously applied for land tax relief, you will need to submit a new application to obtain this further relief.

In addition to land tax relief, the government will also extend a ban on evictions and rental increases until the end of the year. Under the extension, evictions and rental increases will continue to be banned for both residential and commercial tenancies until 31 December 2020 (except in specific circumstances). The Residential Tenancies Dispute Resolution Scheme through Consumer Affairs Victoria will remain in place to assist more residential tenants and landlords struggling to reach an agreement over rental reductions. The Victorian Small Business Commission (VSBC) will continue to provide a similar service for commercial tenancies.

Specifically, to support small local businesses, the government will introduce additional measures that require commercial landlords to provide rental relief in proportion with the fall in turnover being experienced by eligible tenants going forward. As a part of this, the VSBC will also be granted greater capacity to make an order on rent relief if a landlord refuses to respond to rent relief requests.

Finally, more grant funding will be made available to eligible residential tenants and landlords with up to $3,000 in rental payments available as a part of the Rental Relief Grant Program. New recipients are able to apply for the full $3,000 while previous recipients are able to get $1,000. Eligible small commercial landlords will be able to access a hardship scheme which will provide them up to $3,000 per tenancy.