Call for more help for struggling small businesses

St George Business Chamber president, Allan Zreik.
St George Business Chamber president, Allan Zreik.

News that the NSW Government is extending its rent relief regulation until March 13 may not be enough to save some businesses, St George Business Chamber president Allan Zreik said.

Under the regulation, property owners are required to reduce rent in proportion to the tenant's decline in turnover. This means if a tenant has experienced a 40 per cent decline in turnover due to COVID-19, then the property owner must provide a 40 per cent reduction in rent.

As a default position, at least 50 per cent of any rent relief must be in the form of a rent waiver with the remainder a rent deferral. Any deferred rent must be paid back over the balance of the lease or for a period of no less than 24 months, whichever is greater.

But Mr Zreik said it may be too late for some small businesses and not enough to help those that have survived.

"It is alright to talk about deferring rents but in the end we still have to pay it, in some cases where we haven't traded for several months," Mr Zreik said.

"Christmas trading wasn't too bad but with the numbers of COVID cases growing people are now staying away.

"There are empty shops on Forest Road, I don't know if this is temporary or they have gone away for good.

"We are trying to communicate with the NSW Chamber of Commerce to see if they can talk with the landlords to provide some more relief for small businesses..

"I met with the NSW Small Business Commissioner, Chris Lamont and asked if he could speak with the government to talk with the landlords to see if they could do more. I'm still waiting to hear back," he said.

Treasurer, Matt Kean said the extension of the rent relief regulation will provide much-needed support for small commercial and retail tenants to keep their doors open over the coming weeks and months.

"With staff shortages and reduced foot traffic, many businesses are struggling at the moment but the ability to negotiate rent will give them a buffer so they can keep the lights on now and recover more quickly," Mr Kean said.

"We appreciate and acknowledge the constructive approach of commercial owners in working together with their tenants in these very challenging circumstances."

Minister for Small Business, Eleni Petinos, said eligibility for rent relief would remain unchanged.

"We know that rent is one of the biggest fixed costs for small businesses and this measur will provide crucial support helping them get through the next couple of months," Ms Petinos said.

Commercial and retail tenants will be eligible for rent relief if they have an annual turnover of less than $5 million and continue to meet the eligibility criteria for JobSaver or the Micro-business Grant, had those programs continued.

Landlords of tenants that have received protections for any period under the Retail and Other Commercial Leases (COVID-19) Regulation 2022 are prohibited from evicting their tenants for certain breaches of the lease, without first attending mediation.

NSW landowners will also have more time now to apply for land tax relief, with applications extended until 28 February for eligible commercial and residential landowners.

Eligible landlords can access the Commercial Landlord Hardship Fund, which provides small commercial or retail landlords with a monthly grant up to the value of any rental relief provided, to a maximum of $3,000 per month per property.

To find out more about land tax relief, visit:

To find out more about the Commercial Landlord Hardship Fund, visit:

For more information on the rent relief extension, visit:

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