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'Agent is badgering for rent and I have no help'

Stacked tables and chairs are seen in a closed Sydney cafe Source: AAP

Many small business owners are in a grave financial distress as the measures announced by the government do not cover them.

The federal government had announced last week that a mandatory code of conduct for commercial tenancies would be legislated across all states and territories.


Highlights:

  • Many small business owners are not able to cover their costs due to the lockdown.

  • The Federal Government has announced several measures to help those who are in financial distress.


The news rules will cover commercial tenancies where the tenant or landlord is eligible for the JobKeeper Payment and has a turnover of $50 million or less.

Landlords will have to lower commercial rents in line with the company’s falling revenue and tenants must not break the lease under the new rules.

Screenshot of PM Scott Morrison delivering Easter message
Facebook/Scott Morrison

However, many small business owners are not eligible for the JobKeeper payment, and their landlords are not offering any respite.

Vinod Kumar Patel, who runs a small café in Melbourne, says his landlord has refused to lower the rent.

“We had written to the agent requesting the relief in the rent. But, they say nothing can be done, and we are bound to pay the rent as per the lease agreement,” Mr Patel told SBS Hindi.

Mr Patel runs his café along with his family members and does not have any workers.

"My cafe is open but the revenue is just 10 per cent of what it used to be."

“Members of my family work with me, and they are not employed so we cannot claim JobKeeper’s payment. We have received a one-time payment of 750 dollars which is not enough to cover the expenses,” said Mr Patel.

He claims the agent is badgering him for rent and he is working as a courier to pay his bills.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison had said earlier last week that landlords and tenants should sit together to find a middle path.

The coronavirus has thrown small businesses into crisis, with many owners sending workers home as customers vanish.
The coronavirus has thrown small businesses into crisis, with many owners sending workers home as customers vanish.
AAP

Finance Minister Mathias Corman said the code of conduct would include scope for landlords to receive land tax relief or deferral.

“We are trying to do our bit, providing the right incentives along the way,” the minister said.

“But we do also expect that landlords will do the right thing in relation to those tenants who are in financial distress.”

The prime minister has already announced a six-month moratorium on evictions for people in financial distress and hardship.

The tenants’ union has argued governments need to step in to facilitate rent relief.

You can stay up to date on coronavirus in your language at sbs.com.au/coronavirus

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others and gatherings are limited to two people unless you are with your family or household.

If you believe you may have contracted the virus, call your doctor, don’t visit, or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. 

If you are struggling to breathe or experiencing a medical emergency, call 000. 

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