The Property Council of Australia will work closely with the NSW Government to finalise the detail of the implementation of the new commercial tenancy code of conduct to ensure its worthy intent of supporting landlords as well as tenants through the COVID-19 crisis is able to be achieved.

“There is no doubt that commercial landlords and tenants are struggling to deal with the difficult impacts of the pandemic period and that is why many have already been working together to help ensure both parties survive the COVID-19 crisis,” said Jane Fitzgerald, NSW Executive Director of the Property Council of Australia.

“Treasurer Perrottet has demonstrated throughout the course of the crisis that he is willing to work with stakeholders and interested parties to get a good outcome and we look forward to working with him to ensure that is also the case here.

Ms Fitzgerald said the Code released by the National Cabinet last week sets out strong principles to guide discussions between commercial landlords and tenants but there are some hidden challenges that need to be navigated to ensure the Code works well in practice.

“We hope to work with the NSW Government to ensure the intent of the Code is met so that property companies, who also have their own financial commitments and obligations to meet, are supported in doing the right thing and, do not become victims of the pandemic,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

“It is very important to note that allowing tenants to terminate leases without cause has been taken off the table and from that starting point we are hopeful of achieving a sensible and balanced result.

“We will be engaging very closely with the NSW Treasurer and Treasury on the implementation of the detail of the NSW plan.

“Key issues which must be clarified include ensuring the Code only applies to tenants in receipt of JobKeeper who are in genuine financial distress. In addition, small property companies and those with larger tenants will need protection to ensure they too survive the COVID-19 crisis,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

Ms Fitzgerald said the land tax relief included in the package was a welcome initiative that would help commercial property owners help tenants over the months ahead.

“But we must avoid a situation where too much of the burden of delivering relief for tenants is expected to be carried by commercial property owners, which include many smaller investors and businesses themselves.

“Similarly, larger owners with property in NSW have complex financial obligations of their own, including to offshore lenders, which must be given careful attention. There is undoubtedly a role for the banks to step up here,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

Media contact: Jane Fitzgerald | M 0419 257 835 | E [email protected]