Our compliance assessment quiz can quickly provide you with an answer as to your compliance with rent relief legislation. Scroll down to take our 30 second quiz.

With weeks until the expiry of the Victorian ban on rental evictions, tenants who have been unable to negotiate rent relief are becoming increasingly nervous about their fate come 29 March 2021.

The Victorian Small Business Commission (VSBC) has held thousands of mediations in order to resolve disputes regarding rent relief since March 2020. However, as 29 March approaches, tenants are concerned that they will soon be served with an eviction notice denying them the opportunity to mediate in the VSBC and instead forcing them to run to VCAT in order to obtain an injunction.

What tenants may not yet have realised is that should their matter proceed to VCAT or the Courts, their application for rent relief will be looked at with a fine-tooth comb. If the rent relief applications are not strictly compliant with the COVID-19 legislation then a tenant may be denied relief.

Whilst VCAT has provided Victorians with some decisions around rent relief such as the case of Filomeno, outlined below, there have not been any decisions from any Court. In our experience, if tenants have made their rent relief application without a solicitor then the application is most likely not compliant. Tenants have been shocked to realise that even the free information online that purports to summarise the laws in order to help tenants with their applications are not completely reliable or comprehensive. Further, certain tenants have only provided its landlords with those documents and evidence requested by landlords and not all of those documents actually required to be provided under the COVID-19 Regulations. If tenants did not seek legal advice in order to apply for rent relief then they should check if their applications are compliant.

The situation about above is exactly what happened in the recent matter of Filomeno Nominees Pty Ltd v Crown Group Pty Ltd (Building and Property) [2021] VCAT 81. See case summary below:

Case Study: Filomeno v Crown Group

In this case, the tenant stopped paying rent and outgoings from 1 April 2020. The tenant made three applications for rent relief to the landlord.

However, on 30 September 2020 the landlord served a default notice on the tenant for non-payment of rent and outgoings. On 9 October 2020, the landlord took possession of the premises.  The tenant issued injunction proceedings in VCAT in order to regain access to the premises.

The tenant argued it was entitled to protection from eviction under the COVID-19 regulations but VCAT disagreed. VCAT found that if a tenant does not strictly comply with the COVID-19 regulations then they are not entitled to the protection of the COVID-19 regulations. This means not only is the tenant not entitled to rent relief but the landlord can kick them out after serving the relevant notices in accordance with their lease.

Check if your rent relief application is compliant

If you are unsure if your rent relief application is compliant please take the short 30 second quiz below:

About the Author

Melissa Passarelli

Senior Associate
A litigation and insolvency lawyer with experience across a variety of areas of law, Melissa’s unique experience provides a valuable offering to her team in providing sound advice and assistance.

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