Extended rent assistance scheme will benefit jewellers

Extended rent assistance scheme will benefit jewellers - Artificial Jewellery

A recent decision by the Victoria Government to approve a two-month extension of the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme (CTRS) will benefit jewellery retailers who may be struggling with the impacts of the current rise of COVID cases.

The scheme, which was extended until 15 March and takes effect on 16 January, is available to businesses with a maximum annual turnover of $10 million and have experienced at least a 30 per cent decline in turnover due to COVID-related causes.

Along with the CTRS extension, the suspension on rent increases will remain in effect, as well as the mandated moratorium on evictions.

Under the program, landlords and tenants are required to mutually abide by the conditions stated in their respective agreements.

Landlords are directed to provide proportional rent relief to tenants, such as businesses with a pre-pandemic turnover of 40 per cent could only be billed 40 per cent of its rent rate. With the remaining 60 per cent, at least half of the rent balance is waived and the remainder is to be deferred.

Throughout the scheme, the Victorian Small Business Commission will provide mediation support to landlords and tenants in cases where no mutual agreement is reached. Landlords will also be unable to evict or lockout tenants without seeking mediation from the commission.

Businesses or tenants that have previously applied to the scheme will continue to receive support and be given more time to repay any deferred rent balance until the end of the program extension.

On the other hand, landlords eligible for the scheme will receive support through the $20 million Commercial Landlord Hardship Fund.

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has welcomed the scheme extension since businesses have been experiencing the damaging effects of the latest surge in cases due to the COVID-19 Omicron variant.

“Rent is a significant pain point for small businesses, and we thank the Victorian government for its leadership during this difficult period,” Paul Zahra, CEO, ARA said, noting that “Victoria has consistently offered these leasing protections through the pandemic” saving hundreds of small businesses.

“Whilst we would like to see the scheme restored to its original [$]50 million turnover level, this measure will certainly go a long way in helping small businesses survive,” he added.

The ARA is the largest and oldest internationally recognised organisation representing more than 100,000 retail establishments throughout Australia.

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