疫情下,很多生意都受到影响。在最近的一个月,我几乎每一天都在回答关于商业租赁的问题。问的最多的就是关于减租和提早结束租赁的问题。

The effects of COVID-19 are no doubt impacting many businesses and their profitability. In the past month, I have received enquiries on an almost daily basis regarding commercial and retail leases, particularly in relation to seeking rent relief and exploring the possibility of terminating leases.

在4月3日,澳大利亚的内阁发布了一个强制行为准则 (“内阁准则”),来帮助因为疫情而盈利受损的中小型企业来跟业主进行对租金的谈判和调解。

On 3 April 2020, the National Cabinet released the National Cabinet Mandatory Code of Conduct (“Mandatory Code”) to guide the negotiations between commercial landlords and tenants in relation to appropriate rent relief where the Tenant’s business has been impacted by the pandemic.

众所期盼下,维州政府在5月1日也发布了关于商业租赁的临时法规(“法规“)。

On 1 May 2020, the Victorian Government finally released the COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures)(Commercial Leases and Licences) Regulations 2020 (Vic) (“Regulations”).

我个人认为,相比于内阁准则,法规是对双方都比较公平的版本。而维州的法规对维州的商业租赁是有法律效应的。所有跟内阁强制行为准则冲突的地方,都以法规为准。

In my view, compared to the Leasing Principles in the Mandatory Code, the Regulations provide a fairer and more balanced guidelines for both the landlords and the tenants. The Regulations are binding and legally enforceable. Where there are inconsistencies between the Regulations and the Mandatory Code, the Regulations prevail.

今天就来给大家重点介绍一下这个法规的主要内容。接下来文章会涵盖以下几个部分:

This article aims to provide information about the main contents of the Regulations. The article discusses the following:

A. 租客要求业主减租程序 Process for seeking rent relief

B. 业主对于减租的方案 Landlord’s offer for rent relief

C. 其他“须知” Other “Need-To-Knows”

几个首先要点 A few preliminary points to note

  1. 法规适用于中小型企业的租客(年收入少于$5000万). The Regulations apply to tenants that are small to medium entities (with annual turnover of less than $50 million).
  2. 法规的相关期为 29/03/2020 到 29/09/2020 (“相关期”). The relevant period for the Regulations is from 29 March 2020 to 29 September 2020 (“Relevant Period”).
  3. 法规不适用某些租赁,比如农业,田园,和放牧的租赁. The Regulations do not apply to certain leases, including leases where the premises are predominantly or wholly used for agricultural, pastoral, farming and grazing.

 

A. 租客要求业主减租程序 Process for seeking rent relief

根据法规 第十条 According to Regulation 10:

1. 租客向业主提出书面要求 The Tenant is to send a request to the Landlord in writing.

租客必须给业主提供的资料包括 The following is to accompany the written request by the Tenant:

  • 租客租赁符合法规条件的声明 Statement by the Tenant that it is an eligible lease.
  • 租客是中小型企业的证明 Evidence that the Tenant is a small to medium entity.
  • 租客符合条件并且申请了政府的 JobKeeper 方案 Evidence that the tenant qualifies for and participates in the Jobkeeper Scheme.

2. 除非业主和租客另外约定期限,否则业主必须在14日之内需给租客一个租金减免的提案。 A landlord has 14 days to make an offer for rent relief, unless otherwise agreed.

3. 在租客收到提案之后,双方必须诚挚的进行协商或者商谈,尽可能达到具体减租金额的共识。Following receipt of a landlord’s offer, the tenant and the landlord must negotiate in good faith with a view to agreeing the rent relief to apply during the relevant period.

根据法规 第二十条 According to Regulation 20:

4. 如果双方私下不能达成共识,可以到维多利亚小型企业委员会去进行调解。If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, either party may file an application with the Victorian Small Business Commissioner for a mediation.

  • 截至本篇文章发布日期,维多利亚小型企业委员会提供免费调解服务。At the date of publishing this article, the Victorian Small Business Commissioner provides free mediation services to those applying under the Regulations.

根据法规 第二十三条 According to Regulation 23:

5. 如果调解不成功,可以到维多利亚民事和行政法庭 或者法院进行诉讼。If the parties are unable to resolve their differences at mediation, either party may file an application at VCAT or the courts.

B. 业主对于减租的方案 Landlord’s offer for rent relief

根据法规 第十条第四小节,业主对于减租的方案必须:According to Regulation 10(4), the Landlord’s offer for rent relief must:

  1. 根据租赁的所有情况 be based on all the circumstances of the lease
  2. 方案关于相关期间高达100%的租金 relate to up to 100% of the rent payable during the relevant period
  3. 除非双方另外协议,减租部分的至少50%是减免 ,另外50%可以有其他方式 Unless otherwise agreed between the parties, no less than 50% of the rent relief offered to the tenant must be in the form of a waiver
  4. 方案必须考虑到以下情况 Take into account the following:
    • 租客在相关期间营业额的减少 Reduction of the tenant’s turnover during the Relevant Period
    • 是否有Outgoings或者其他费用的减免 Any waiver by the landlord of the outgoings or other expenses
    • 如果不减少足够的金额,是否会影响到租客继续履行租赁义务,包括付租金的义务 Whether a failure to offer sufficient rent relief would compromise a tenant’s capacity to fulfil its ongoing obligations under the lease, including the payment of rent
    • 业主是否有经济条件允许减租,包括有没有得到贷方的债务补助或者救济 A landlord’s financial ability to offer rent relief, including any relief provided by the landlord by any of its lenders or mortgagees
    • Outgoings 是否减少 Any reduction to the outgoings charged to the premises

C. 其他须知” Other “Need-To-Knows”.

租金赊欠须知 A few things to note about deferred rent

内阁准则记载的是至少一半的减租必须是减免,余下部分是赊欠方式。法规规定至少一半的减租必须是减免,但是并没有规定余下部分就必须是采用赊欠方式。在一般的情况下,双方可以商谈余下部分如何处理,包括是否以赊欠方式。

The Mandatory Code provides that at least half of the rent relief is to be waived and the remainder is to be deferred. Whilst the Regulations state that at least 50% of the rent relief is to be waived, it does not specify how the remaining 50% is to be treated. In practice, it is difficult to see how the remaining 50% would be treated, other than by way of a deferral.

根据法规 第十六条,如果双方协议余下部分以赊欠方式,业主则不得在相关期间或者租赁合约到期之前(以较早的日期为准)要求租客支付赊欠的租金。

According to Regulation 16, if any rent is deferred, a Landlord must not request payment of any part of the deferred rent until the expiry of the Relevant Period or the expiry of the term of the lease, whichever is earlier.

赊欠的部分,租客可以在余下租赁合同期间,或者24个月(比较长的期限为准)分期付款。关于这点,业主和租客也可以另外协议分期付款期。

Unless otherwise agreed between the parties, the deferred rent is to be amortised over the balance of the term of the lease, including any extension of term, or within 24 months, whichever is greater.

根据法规 第十七条,如果部分减租是以赊欠的方式,业主不可以对于赊欠部分收取利息。

According to Regulation 17, a landlord must not require a tenant to pay any interest, fee or charge in relation to any deferred rent.

强制性延长租期 Mandatory extension of lease 

根据法规 第十三条,如果双方协议部分减免的租金是采取赊欠的方式,业主必须提供租客以跟租赁合同同样的条款,延长租约。除非业主和租客另外有书面上的协议,延长部分必须等同于赊欠期限。

According to Regulation 13, if the payment of any rent is to be deferred, the landlord must offer the tenant an extension to the lease on the same terms and conditions as the current lease. Unless otherwise agreed in writing that Regulation 13 does not apply, the extension must be equivalent to the period for which the rent is deferred.

如何处理outgoings和其他费用? How to deal with outgoings?

根据法规第14条,在相关期间内,如果租客有段时间不营业,业主应该考虑不收Outgoings或者其他费用。在这个情况下,业主可以酌情合理,或者应租客要求,停止或者减少某些服务。

According to Regulation 14, a landlord must consider waiving recovery of any outgoing or other expenses for any part of the Relevant Period where the tenant is not able to operate their business at the premises.

根据法规第15条 ,如果outgoings减少了,业主不可以向租客收取比租赁合同更高的占比。如果租客已经付了outgoings,业主要尽早将余额退回。

According to Regulation 15, a landlord must not require a tenant to pay any amount in respect of the outgoings that is greater than the proportion stipulated under the lease. If the tenant has already paid a landlord a greater proportional share of any reduced outgoings, the landlord must reimburse the excess amount to the tenant as soon as possible.

业主可以在相关期间增加租金吗? Can a Landlord increase the rent during this period?

根据法规第十二条 ,业主不能在相关期间增加租金,租金以租客的营业额来计算的店面租赁除外。

According to Regulation 12, a landlord must not increase the rent payable under the lease at any time during the Relevant Period, unless the usual rent is determined by reference to the volume of trade of the tenant’s business.

租客可以重复申请业主减租?Second or subsequent application for rent relief?

根据法规 第十一条 ,如果双方达到减租的协议,可是之后租客的经济情况有了重大的变化,租客可以再次向业主申请减租,双方则需再次进行以上的程序。不一样的是,再次申请的情况下,业主的再次减租提案就不需要有至少50%的减免。

According to Regulation 11, if the financial circumstances of a tenant materially change after the parties have entered into an agreement, the tenant may make a further request to the landlord by repeating the process described above. In the case of subsequent applications, the obligation that at least 50% of the relief is to be in the form of a waiver does not apply.

业主可以因为租客不付租金驱逐租客或者兑现保证金吗?Can a Landlord evict a tenant for non-payment of rent? 

根据法规 第九条,如果租客在进行以上减租程序,而期间不付租金或者按照双方合约付了减少的租金,不能作为违约(租赁合同)。

According to Regulation 9, a tenant is not in breach of the lease if they do not pay the amount of rent required under the lease during the process of applying for a rent relief, or pay a reduced amount in accordance with any variation as agreed between the parties.

在以上的情况下,业主不得逐出或者试图逐出租客。如有违背,最高罚款为 $3304.40 (20 penalty units)

In the above circumstance, the landlord must not attempt to evict a tenant or re-enter the premises. Any breach by the landlord of this Regulation may attract a civil penalty of $3304.40 (20 penalty units).

在以上的情况,业主不得兑现或者用租客交的保证金。如有违背,最高罚款为 $3304.40 (20 penalty units)

In the above circumstance, the landlord must have recourse or attempt to have recourse to any security deposit by the Tenant under the lease. Any breach by the Landlord of this Regulation may attract a civil penalty of $3304.40 (20 penalty units).

疫情期间,租客可以减少营业时间或者关门吗?Can a tenant close its business or reduce its business hours during the Relevant Period?

根据法规 第十八条,如果租客在相关期间减少生意时间或者关闭生意,不能作为违约(租赁合同)。

According the Regulation 18, a tenant is not in breach of the lease if during the relevant period, the tenant reduces the opening hours of the business or ceases to carry out any business at the premises.

在以上的情况下,业主不得逐出或者试图逐出租客。如有违背,最高罚款为 $3304.40 (20 penalty units)

In the above circumstance, the landlord must not attempt to evict a tenant or re-enter the premises. Any breach by the landlord of this Regulation may attract a civil penalty of $3304.40 (20 penalty units).

在以上的情况,业主不得兑现或者用租客交的保证金。如有违背,最高罚款为 $3304.40 (20 penalty units)

In the above circumstance, the landlord must have recourse or attempt to have recourse to any security deposit by the Tenant under the lease. Any breach by the landlord of this Regulation may attract a civil penalty of $3304.40 (20 penalty units).

业主和租客的义务 General obligations on landlords and tenants 

根据法规第八条,业主和租客双方都需要合作,合理,真诚的进行讨论和采取行动。我认为这条法规挺重要的,应当作为双方谈判的基础。而,这个法规如有违背,或许在调解和上法庭的时候会有一些作用。

According to Regulation 8, a landlord and tenant must cooperate and act reasonably and in good faith in their discussions. In my view, this Regulation is critical and should be the foundation upon which the parties enter into any discussions and negotiations. Any breach of this Regulation may have an impact on subsequent mediation or court proceedings.

To stay up to date with Mandarin legal updates and guides, join the WeChat group at the code to the left. (This code expires on 23 May 2020).

如果想要即时追踪最新的法律讲座和法律文章等信息,请扫码进入我的微信群。

 

这篇文章仅仅是为大家普及一些基本的法律常识。并不适用于你个个人情况。如果想咨询更多,请联络我。

This article aims to provide you with very general legal information and cannot constitute legal advice to any tailored circumstance. If you wish to know more, please do not hesitate to contact me.

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