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Small commercial and retail landlords may be eligible for relief under the new Commercial Landlord Hardship Fund (‘Fund’). The NSW Government has set up the fund to support landlords who are experiencing hardship as a result of reducing rent for their tenants pursuant to the Retail and Other Commercial Leases (COVID-19) Regulation 2021 (Regulation).

The Fund will grant up to $3,000 a month per tenancy to the eligible landowners who:

  • will suffer hardship as a result of waiving some or all of the rent for a tenant financially impacted by COVID-19; and
  • have not claimed any land tax relief for rent reductions provided between 1 July 2021 and 31 December 2021.

Prior to applying for relief from the Fund, Landlords must:

  1. reach an agreement through either mediation or private negotiation with impacted tenants that complies with the Regulations;
  2. obtain tenant approval to disclose terms of the agreement for the purpose of applying for the relief from the Fund; and
  3. show evidence that the agreed amount has been applied to the month for which the grant is being claimed.

One the above steps have been taken, Landlords must ensure that they meet the following eligibility criteria to apply:

  • be a landowner or trustee with total taxable land holdings of less than $5 million;
  • have not claimed land tax relief for rent reductions between 1 July – 31 December 2021;
  • have gross rental income as their primary source of income;
  • be a landowner of the property for which the application is made;
  • be a landowner of NSW property subject to the Regulations;
  • be a landlord providing rent reductions to a tenant pursuant to the Regulations; and
  • attest that providing rent relief to the tenant may cause financial hardship.

In the case of multiple landowners, grants will be allocated according to ownership share in the property.

From October 2021, eligible landowners can apply through the Service NSW website to receive relief under the Fund. The amount granted each month will depend on the amount of the rent waiver provided to the tenant each month from August 2021.

This article was co-authored by Law Cadet Nikala Speed.