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The Real Estate Institute of Victoria (REIV) has voiced serious concern about the process that is currently in place for a commercial landlord to receive the coronavirus land tax relief.
In a letter to the state treasurer, the REIV called for an urgent change to the current process, with president Leah Calnan calling it “overly bureaucratic”, noting it “greatly disadvantages commercial property owners who have negotiated a rent relief in good faith”.
“Currently, once commercial rent relief negotiations are completed, the tenant must complete an online form to enable the landlord to apply for land tax relief. Only the tenant can complete this form for the landlord,” Ms Calnan said.
“Our primary concern is that there are no incentives or consequences for the tenant if they fail or refuse to do this.”
“The commercial property owner is at the mercy of their tenant to apply for the tax relief promised by the government.”
Ms Calnan said the process is unfair for the landlord and their agent who have negotiated rent reduction for the tenant as per government guidelines but are unable to claim the promised land tax relief because their tenant fails to complete the form.
To further the point, Ms Calnan pointed to an extract from the State Revenue Office’s website, which notes:
“Once you have completed the form online, you need to send it to your landlord. You can download a copy, or email a copy to yourself, which you can then email to your landlord, or send it to them directly by entering their email address on the final page, titled ‘Form Complete’.”
On this, Ms Calnan said: “The Real Estate Institute of Victoria urgently requests that an alternative process be enabled to ensure landlords are not unduly disadvantaged.”
“In order to manage the financial impact for both the landlord and the tenant, the rent relief could be only initiated after the form has been submitted or even better, the process scrapped.”
Ms Calnan emphasised that all stakeholders “must be equally supported during this time”.
“It is important to remember that the majority of landlords are mum and dad investors who are doing their best to support tenants impacted by the coronavirus,” she said.
A landlord, also known as a lessor, refers to an individual that owns a leased property.
Rent refers to the payment made by a tenant periodically to a landlord for the use and occupancy of a property.
A tenant, also known as a renter or occupant, is a person or entity that leases space for residential or commercial use.