COVID-19 Emergency Legislation makes sweeping temporary changes to the general law and commercial and residential lease arrangements
The COVID-19 Emergency Response Act 2020 (the Act) has been enacted and makes various temporary modifications to South Australian law in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Local Government Association has provided an explanatory paper on the Act relating to the impact on commercial leases and residential tenancies. The guidance paper is available here.
Significantly, with respect to commercial leases, if a tenant is suffering “financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic” a landlord cannot, amongst other things, take action to take back the premises, or seek to recover all or part of a security bond, relating to a failure of the tenant to pay rent or outgoings. The operation of this section has been backdated to 30 March 2020 to ensure that any pre-emptive action that may have been taken by landlords following the Federal Government’s announcement regarding eviction moratoriums are covered and the provisions may remain operative for up to 6 months.
Similarly with residential tenants, where a tenant is suffering financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, a landlord will be prevented from:
- evicting tenants for non-payment of rent or water supply and usage charges; and
- obtaining compensation for any costs or expenses incurred as a result of the tenant failing to pay rent.
The Act also makes a number of temporary amendments to the following legislation:
- Supported Residential Facilities Act 1992;
- Emergency Management Act 2004;
- Environment Protection Act 1993;
- Parliamentary Committees Act 1991;
- Public Finance and Audit Act 1987; and
- South Australian Public Health Act 2011.
A guidance paper in relation to these changes has also been provided by the Local Government Association and may be accessed here. The guidance paper provides a summary of the relevant amendments affecting:
- Supported Residential Facilities;
- powers of the Treasurer;
- extension of time limits and terms of appointments;
- execution and witnessing of documents; and
- meetings required to be held in person.
We look forward to continuing to advise the sector as and when accompanying regulations and new information comes to light. For more specific advice about the matters discussed in this article, or about COVID-19 and leases or Local Government generally, please call the LGA COVID-19 hotline on 8224 2099, or Sean Keenihan on 8210 1293 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Sathish Dasan on 8210 1253 of email@example.com.