The Property Council has called on the Victorian Government to rethink its commercial tenancy relief scheme announced today and to stop imposing an unfair and costly burden of government-imposed lockdowns on the property sector.

Victorian Executive Director Danni Hunter said: “The Victorian property industry is once again being asked to carry an unfairly heavy load for the impact of lockdowns on our state in the form of a poorly targeted scheme. 

“It makes no sense to impose a one-size-fits-all intervention in commercial leases when Victoria is no longer in lockdown.  The property sector employs one in four working Victorians and contributes more to state taxes than mining, agriculture and manufacturing combined. 

“Commercial landlords are overwhelmingly doing the right thing and supporting their struggling small business tenants on a case-by-case basis and have continued to do so right throughout the recent fifth lockdown.

“It should not be the responsibility of landlords, who’ve felt the impact of lockdowns acutely, to keep supporting profitable businesses. That should be the responsibility of the Victorian Government which has taken the state into repeated lockdowns and should foot the bill.

“In May the property sector was slugged by the Victorian Government with big hikes in land tax and stamp duty as well as a new windfall gains tax on rezoned land. Now it’s been whacked again by the reintroduction of an ill-conceived commercial tenancy relief scheme.

“Like the previous tax increases, this is the wrong policy at the wrong time.  It impacts commercial landlords who have financing and commercial obligations, particularly here in Victoria where we have spent so much time in lockdown. Many landlords are smaller companies than the big businesses tenants in their buildings, or self-managed super funds looking after retirement savings for Victorians.”

Ms Hunter said that with an upper limit for businesses of up to $50 million turnover, the scheme could be open to big business to take advantage of smaller landlords.  She said legislation must include stringent requirements for tenants to demonstrate genuine financial distress and the Landlord Hardship Fund must be easily accessible by landlords to ensure the balance is struck across both landlords and tenants experiencing distress. 

The Property Council will work closely with the Victorian Government on the design of the enabling legislation and will represent its members in these discussions which are to commence today.

Media contact: Eric Allilomou M: 0448 291 236 E: [email protected]