QLD Government’s Regulatory Support for Commercial Tenants Affected by COVID-19

QLD Government’s Regulatory Support for Commercial Tenants Affected by COVID-19
June 2, 2020 /

By Adam Smith

In response to the Federal Government’s release of a Code of Conduct regulating commercial leases, the Queensland Government has introduced regulations under the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act 2020 to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on affected lessors and lessees. To be eligible for protection under the act, your lease must be deemed an affected lease under the act.

What is an affected lease?

  1. Under the regulation, a lease is considered an affected lease if it meets all the following criteria:
  2. It is a retail shop lease or a lease for carrying on the business of the tenant;
  3. It was current when the regulations commenced (28 May 2020);
  4. It is a lease of a premises where the tenant carries on business or is a non-profit body in the current financial year;
  5. The tenant’s turnover was less than $50 million for the 2018-19 financial year or is likely to be under $50 million for the 2019-20 financial year;
  6. The tenant is eligible for, but not necessarily enrolled in, the JobKeeper Payment scheme.

Relief for affected Lessee:

  1. During the response period defined under the regulation (29 March to 30 September 2020), if your lease is an affected lease:
  2. You may not be evicted or have your lease terminated for non-payment of rent or outgoings;
  3. Your rent must be reduced in proportion to your lost turnover (at least 50% of the rent reduction offered must be in the form of a waiver leaving the rest to be deferred);
  4. Your rent may not be increased;
  5. You may not be penalised for reducing trading hours or not opening;
  6. Your landlord may not make a claim on a bank guarantee or security deposit for unpaid rent or outgoings.

All Prohibited Prescribed Actions of the Lessors:

  1. The full list of prescribed actions that a landlord is prohibited from taking includes:
  2. Recovery of possession;
  3. Termination of the lease;
  4. Eviction of the lessee
  5. Exercising a right of re-entry to premises;
  6. Seizure of any property, including for the purpose of securing payment of rent.
  7. Forfeiture;
  8. Damages;
  9. The payment of interest on, or a fee or charge relating to, unpaid rent or outgoings;
  10. The performance of an obligation by the lessee or another person under a guarantee under the lease;
  11. Exercising or enforcing another right by the lessor under the lease or other agreement relating to the leased premises.

Negotiation:

It is important to inform your landlord that your turnover has been affected by COVID-19 so they can apply for support. If your landlord is not aware of this, they will be unable to assist you. In order to commence negotiations with your landlord you may want to seek independent advice from either a business advisor or a legal professional (Being well established in the area of Leasing, Robbins Watson Solicitors are available to provide such advice).

Relief for Landlords:

  1. Landlords on the other hand, may also be eligible for relief:
  2. Land Tax relief for landlords – if received, must be passed on to lessee in the form of rent relief;
  3. Banking relief for landlords – may be eligible to have their loan repayments deferred by their bank. A condition of the deferral is that they cannot terminate the lease or evict the tenant for rent arrears as a result of COVID-19.

The aim of this new legislation is to work side by side with the Federal Government’s Code of Conduct for commercial leases and ensure that landlords and tenants are provided with appropriate assistance during these difficult times.

If you have any queries or concerns regarding a commercial lease, feel free to book a consultation with one of our lawyers.

Should you wish to download a copy of this article please click HERE.

pleasant surprise from a grateful client

COVID-19 and Interaction with Testamentary and Enduring Documents

COVID-19 and Interaction with Testamentary and Enduring Documents
May 15, 2020 /

The Queensland Government has responded to the complexities surrounding Wills and Enduring documents resulting from the current COVID-19 pandemic with passing the Justice Legislation (COVID-Emergency Response-Wills and Enduring Documents) Regulation 2020.  Being welcomed by Queensland legal practitioners who have been navigating imposed social distancing and isolation measures, Solicitors will now be able to provide additional services to those vulnerable clients who may be limited in obtaining advice and services relating to Wills and Enduring documents (i.e. Enduring Powers of Attorney and Advance Health Directives).

This freshly passed legislation now permits Wills and Enduring documents to be executed by way of audio visual links – something that was not considered as part of the formal requirements for Wills under s 10 of the Succession Act (Qld) 1981.  It is important to note however, that this legislation is due to expire on 31 December 2020 and is a temporary measure during the current climate.

At Robbins Watson Solicitors, we pride ourselves in utilising the advancement of technology and the adoption of progressive laws for the benefit of our clients – being a paperless firm with technical capabilities to continue to provide seamless services to our clients, we are pleased to now offer the ability to arrange for the making of, execution and witnessing of Wills and or Enduring documents by way of audio visual link.  This will be particularly helpful for those clients with health concerns who cannot attend the Firm, residents in aged care facilities, and those required to practice social distancing and isolation.

If you would like to find out more on how this legislation may relate to yours or a family member’s circumstances, please do not hesitate to contact our office, and speak with one of our staff who will be happy to assist.

Client Care and Attention

Client Care and Attention
May 15, 2020 /

At Robbins Watson we are committed to ensuring the service we offer our clients is of the highest standard.

Our dedicated family law team are dedicated to ensuring our clients are treated as individuals. We appreciate how stressful it can be and we ensure our clients receive the upmost care and attention as well as good quality legal advice and representation.

If you have any family law issues please don’t hesitate to contact our specialist family law team on 5576 9999.

It’s about a child’s future, not just the past

It’s about a child’s future, not just the past
May 12, 2020 /

in determining the appropriate relationship which a child should prospectively have with a parent, family law proceedings tend to look to the future, rather than allowing the historical relationship which a parent has had with a child to be determinative.”

This brief line from a recent judgment of the Family Court of Australia encapsulates a key aspect of parenting Orders.

Family law judges are tasked by law with making Orders which are in the best interest of the child. There are two primary considerations which tend to be summarised as being the benefit to the child of having a meaningful relationship with both parents, and assessing the risk of harm to the child in doing so.

In this particular case, the court was considering the benefits of a meaningful relationship between the child and a father. The mother had undoubtedly been the child’s primary carer and attachment, however the Court was asked to consider orders which both stopped any relationship between the child and the father, or alternatively Orders which allowed for the development of a greater relationship between the child and his father than had been the case in the past.  There were also allegations of harm, which were denied. The Court made Orders extending the child’s time with the father and these were appealed.

The appeal Judge considering the matter made this comment;

“… Ultimately it was quintessentially a matter for the primary judge as to what weight she gave to that matter. It is plain that she gave it some, but not determinative weight. That is unsurprising, since in determining the appropriate relationship which a child should prospectively have with a parent, family law proceedings tend to look to the future, rather than allowing the historical relationship which a parent has had with a child to be determinative.”

In considering what is in the best interest of the child, this can take into account not only what this child’s life has been like and is like now, but also look to the future and the relationship that the child should have.

It’s about what’s in their best interest.

For the full reference: Shaw & Shaw [2020] FamCAFC 80 (9 April 2020).

Should you wish to download a copy of this article please click HERE.

THE ADVICE YOU NEED

THE ADVICE YOU NEED
May 6, 2020 /

Coming to see a solicitor means there a usually a specific problem or situation that client’s want resolved. Recent feedback to our Senior Family Lawyer, Sarah Galvin, highlights how important it is for clients to receive the advice that they need.

“Dear Sarah, Thank you for your clear and concise answer to my problem, you have indeed eased my conscience” R

If you have a family law situation which you need help with, and want clear, personalised advice as to the best way forward for you in your situation, please don’t hesitate to contact our family law solicitors on 5576 9999 or through our social media.

Federal Government Releases Mandatory Code of Conduct for Commercial Leases

Federal Government Releases Mandatory Code of Conduct for Commercial Leases
April 8, 2020 /

Federal Government Releases Mandatory Code of Conduct for Commercial Leases

In response to the economic impact on small businesses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Government has released a mandatory Code of Conduct to apply to all commercial leases. The respective States will have to introduce legislation in line with this Code.

The Code doesn’t apply to residential tenancies. These are to be dealt with by the State Governments.

The objective of the Code is to minimise in a proportionate manner the financial risk and cashflow impact on both landlords and tenants. In particular, the Code will apply to all tenants who are eligible for the recently introduced JobKeeper payments, and the level of rent relief will be consistent with the tenant’s reduction in turnover as assessed when applying for the JobKeeper payments.

The overarching principles of the Code are:

  1. Landlords are not to terminate leases due to non-payment of rent during the COVID-19 pandemic period or a subsequent reasonable period of recovery.
  2. Tenants must otherwise abide by their leases, and failure to do so will disqualify them from protection under the Code.
  3. Landlords must offer tenants proportionate reductions in rent payable in the form of waivers and deferrals, based on the reduction in the tenant’s trade.
  4. Complete rental waivers must make up at least 50% of the agreed rent reduction, and the balance of the reduction can be dealt with by way of rent deferrals. Such deferrals must be amortised over the balance of the lease term, or for a period of 2 years, whichever is the greater, unless otherwise agreed by the parties. If there is only a short time left to go on a lease, the tenant should be given the opportunity to extend the lease for a period equal to the deferral period.
  5. Landlords should share with the tenant any benefit they receive due to deferral of loan payments, or reductions in statutory charges such as land tax and council rates.
  6. Interest is not to be charged on any agreed rent waivers or deferrals.
  7. Landlords must not draw on any bonds or other securities for non-payment of rent during the period of the COVID-19 pandemic or a subsequent reasonable recovery period.
  8. There is to be a freeze on rent increases for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic or a subsequent reasonable recovery period.
  9. Landlords are not to impose any penalties where a tenant reduces opening hours or ceases to trade due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The parties are to negotiate in good faith to achieve mutually satisfactory outcomes.

Should you wish to download a copy of this article please click HERE.

Conveyancing news: Physical settlements of purchases and sales of real estate are being severely disrupted by travel and isolation restrictions

Conveyancing news: Physical settlements of purchases and sales of real estate are being severely disrupted by travel and isolation restrictions
March 26, 2020 /

Conveyancing can be conducted electronically, but unfortunately, despite being available since 2015, most law firms have not adopted the new technology. Those firms are still relying on old system settlements, which still rely on all parties all meeting at once to exchange documents and cheques.

We have noted significant troubles where the parties are still using the old system — these kinds of settlements are being postponed or cancelled.

Robbins Watson have been doing new system, electronic conveyancing since 2015. It is frustrating, and entirely unnecessary, that settlements are falling over because of the slow adoption of the e-conveyancing system by some law firms.

E-conveyancing is faster and more reliable than old system settlements. E-conveyancing has NO ISSUES with settling due to COVID 19 because there is no need for anyone to travel to a settlement – it all happens via computer.

When you choose your solicitor for your next house purchase or sale – ask if they can do e-conveyancing.

Robbins Watson – e-conveyancing experts since 2015

Media Release – Statement from the Hon Will Alstergren

Media Release – Statement from the Hon Will Alstergren
March 26, 2020 /

Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia, the Honourable William Alstergren, released a statement today to provide guidance in relation to parenting orders and COVID-19. It calls for all parties to act in the best interests of the child and to find practical solutions to arrangements during the course of the pandemic and the current restrictions in place.

Robbins Watson remains open to assist you with your family law matter. Call our office at (07) 5576 9999 to book your 30-minute free consultation in person, telephone or video.

#familylaw #familycourt #lawyer #freeconsultation #legal #chiefjustice #separation

http://www.familycourt.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/fcoaweb/reports-and-publications/media-releases/2020/mr260320?fbclid=IwAR3xFGawTGJWrXvplS2r98Gl2UpGbxTBRZ5HiJcOb9X2aL-uDSox5KZFR_U

 

GCDLA Meet the Judiciary