COVID-19 Leg­is­la­tion Amend­ment (Emer­gency Mea­sures) Bill 2020 | 26 March 2020

The COVID-19 Leg­is­la­tion Amend­ment (Emer­gency Mea­sures) Bill 2020 (Bill) was passed last night and received roy­al assent today.

The Bill intro­duces Part 11 into the Retail Leas­es Act 1994 (RLA) (which is a new part).

The new Part 11 pro­vides that reg­u­la­tions MAY pro­vide for cer­tain mat­ters for the pur­pose of respond­ing to the pub­lic health emer­gency caused by COVID-19 pan­dem­ic as follows:


pro­hibit­ing the recov­ery of pos­ses­sion of premis­es by a land­lord in par­tic­u­lar cir­cum­stances;


pro­hibit­ing the ter­mi­na­tion of a lease by a land­lord in par­tic­u­lar cir­cum­stances;


reg­u­lat­ing or pre­vent­ing a land­lord from exer­cis­ing or enforc­ing anoth­er right in par­tic­u­lar circumstances;


exempt­ing a ten­ant, or a class of ten­ants, from the oper­a­tion of the RLA or any agree­ment relat­ing to the leas­ing of premises.

A cou­ple of impor­tant points:

  1. No reg­u­la­tions have been enact­ed at the time of writ­ing this note.
  2. The reg­u­la­tions can only be made if Par­lia­ment is not sit­ting, and is unlike­ly to sit with­in 2 weeks after the reg­u­la­tion is made and, in the Minister’s opin­ion, the reg­u­la­tion is rea­son­able to pro­tect the health, safe­ty and wel­fare of lessees under the RLA.
  3. Reg­u­la­tions made under the above pro­vi­sion expire 6 months after the reg­u­la­tion com­mences, unless Par­lia­ment resolves an ear­li­er expiry.
  4. Part 11 applies not only to the RLA but to any oth­er Act relat­ing to the leas­ing of premis­es or land for com­mer­cial pur­pos­es”. It is there­fore pos­si­ble that the amend­ment results in a reg­u­la­tion being made under leg­is­la­tion which gov­erns com­mer­cial leas­es or leas­es not caught by the RLA.

More to fol­low as it comes to hand.

Kind regards

Mary Digiglio