In July 2020, the NSWSC handed down a decision in relation to the case of Sneakerboy Retail Pty Ltd Trading as Sneakerboy v Georges Properties Pty Ltd [2020] NSWSC 996. The case involved a tenant (Sneakerboy) who was continuously late paying rent and charges under their lease with the landlord (George Properties). By March 2020, the tenant was in arrears of approximately $65,000. As the effects of COVID-19 were developing the tenant unilaterally sought to alter the previously agreed upon installment plan and began to move stock from the premises. The landlord then claimed that the removal of stock constituted abandonment of the premises. Following an inquiry by the Landlord the tenant asserted that they were not abandoning the premises, but simply ceasing trading for health and safety reasons during the pandemic. By notice in late March 2020, the landlord sought to terminate the lease and enter the premises as a result of the tenant’s failure to pay. Importantly, the landlord terminated the lease prior the announcement of the National Code or before the NSW regulation had been passed. Following termination, the tenant commenced proceedings and sought relief against forfeiture. The Court ruled that the due to the existence of COVID-19, the tenants’ actions could not be considered an abandonment of the premises, and therefore the only grounds for termination was the arrears. The Court further ruled that relief should be given per normal principles that relief is usually given, if the only grounds for termination is arrears, and gave the tenant relief against forfeiture on the conditions that they provided a new bank guarantee and paid the landlord’s cost of proceedings. This case illustrates that arrears alone may not be a valid reason to terminate a lease and proving a tenant has abandoned the premises has an extremely high

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