It would appear, at least anecdotally, there is a prevailing view that the expedited mediation service offered by the Victorian Small Business Commission (SBC) during the COVID-19 crisis is aimed at providing assistance to tenants only. This is however not the case and both tenants and landlords alike can make an application for referral of a dispute about temporary leasing arrangements (under the Commercial Tenancies Relief Scheme for SME Leases during coronavirus crisis).

The SBC service can be a useful and cost effective dispute resolution tool for landlords when dealing with tenants who may have unrealistic expectations as to the sort and extent of relief that should be afforded to them under the recently introduced (temporary) COVID19 commercial tenancy regulations.

The SBC application is straightforward and is usually followed up by a preliminary discussion with an SBC representative who can provide useful guidance in the process and attempt to achieve a resolution prior to mediation. A link to the application (which can be completed by landlords) can be found here.

Of course, instrumental in resolving such disputes is an understanding of your legal rights and obligations in negotiating with tenants under the COVID19 commercial tenancy regulations. Being equipped with appropriate advice which takes into account the unique circumstances of the tenancy and the lease is integral to achieving a swift outcome and may ultimately assist to avoid mediation altogether.

If you are a commercial landlord requiring urgent advice on your particular commercial leasing circumstances, contact Rankin Business Lawyers for on point, practical guidance.

Joseph CarneliSenior Associate