The COVID-19 Legislation Amendment (Emergency Measures) Act 2020 (NSW) (‘the Act’) was assented to on 25 March 2020, introducing a variety of regulatory changes to be made to Retail and Residential Leases affected by COVID-19.

The new Act amends various statutes in relation to the pandemic, including s229 (Regulation Making Power) of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (NSW) and the s87 (Regulation Making Power) of the Retail Leases Act 1994 (NSW).  The amendments to these two acts have permitted the NSW Government to make regulations in relation to the following:

  • Prohibiting the repossession of a premises by a landlord/lessor
  • Prohibiting the termination of a residential tenancy agreement or a retail lease or tenancy
  • Regulating or preventing the exercise of enforcement of another right of a landlord/lessor under the relevant Act or another Agreement relating to the premises
  • Exempting a tenant, resident, or a class of tenants/residents from the operation of a provision of the relevant Act or another Agreement relating to the premises.
Further to these provisions, the relevant Minister may directly recommend to the Governor of NSW that regulations covering the above may be made under any Relevant Acts if the Parliament is not sitting and is not likely to sit within 2 weeks after the regulations are made and in the relevant Minister’s opinion, the regulations are reasonable to protect the health, safety and welfare of the tenants or residents under the relevant Act.

It is intended that these regulations will expire after 6 months, or if the Parliament decides, earlier. Given the developments of COVID-19 in Australia, both landlords and tenants, whether residential or retail, should be reviewing their lease documents and considering what current and future actions are required. It is imperative that you ensure that you are aware of your rights and duties during these uncertain times.

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