On 23 April 2020, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews introduced the COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) Bill 2020 (Vic) (“the Bill”) into the Legislative Assembly. The Bill passed both houses of parliament on the same day it was introduced. On 24 April 2020, the Bill received the Royal Assent.
The COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) Act 2020 (Vic) (“the Act”) contains amendments for a number of acts in order to allow for the making of regulations, and to make amendments to legislation in response to the current Coronavirus pandemic. The Act wholly commenced on 25 April 2020.
The Act amends the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic) (“the Tenancies Act”) and the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2018 (Vic) (“the Tenancies Amendment Act”) in order to better support tenants and landlords in residential property agreements during the Coronavirus pandemic. The amendments will implement certain temporary measures for the duration of a moratorium period. The moratorium period will be for six months beginning on 29 March 2020 and ending on 29 September 2020.
The Act amends the Tenancies Act to insert new temporary measures, which include:
A notice to vacate under Subdivision 4 of Division 1 of Part 6 of the Tenancies Act includes a notice given for the following reasons:
The Act also amends the Tenancies Act in order to include additional regulation-making powers which will allow the Governor in Council to make regulations relation to certain matters in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. The regulations may include provisions that:
However, the regulations must sunset within 6 months of being made, and are disallowable by either the Legislative Assembly or Council.
The Act also makes amendments to both the Tenancies Act and the Tenancies Amendment Act to insert new sections in order to better provide for victims of family or personal violence during the moratorium period. These new provisions deal with the application for termination or new agreement, VCAT orders, and cross-examination procedures for a victim of family or personal violence.
The Act also defers the commencement and expiry of the Tenancies Amendment Act, for a period of 6 months.
Part 2.2 of the Act contains regulation-making powers which will allow the Governor in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister for Small Business (“the Minister”) to implement regulations in regards to certain eligible leases. An eligible lease is defined in section 13 as a retail lease, or a non-retail commercial lease or license, which:
However, tenants who are members of a group of companies with a combined annual turnover of $50 million or over will be excluded from this scheme. Within this definition, an SME entity is taken to have the same meaning as in section 4 of the Guarantee of Lending to Small and Medium Enterprises (Coronavirus Economic Response Package) Act 2020 (Cth). A retail lease is one within the meaning of the Retail Leases Act 2003 (Vic). A non-retail commercial lease is defined in section 14 as one where the premises are let for the sole or predominant purpose of carrying on a business at the premises.
These regulations will be able to make various provisions regarding eligible leases in regards to:
These regulations can be retrospective up until 29 March 2020, but will be revoked by implication on 29 September 2020.
The Act also contains a number of provisions in order to make amendments to the operation of the justice system in order to allow for its continued delivery during the Coronavirus pandemic.
In regards to evidence and procedure, the Act amends a number of acts in order to:
Part 2.1 of the Act also contains regulation-making powers which will allow for the Governor in Council, on the recommendation of the Attorney-General, to implement emergency regulations in justice system matters. The regulations can make provisions in regards to:
Regulations made under Part 2.1 of the Act will cease within 6 months of the commencement of the Act, or may cease earlier if revoked or disallowed by either the Legislative Assembly or Council.
The Act also contains provisions which:
TimeBase is an independent, privately owned Australian legal publisher specialising in the online delivery of accurate, comprehensive and innovative legislation research tools including LawOne and unique Point-in-Time Products. Nothing on this website should be construed as legal advice and does not substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel.
COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) Act 2020 (Vic) and COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) Bill 2020 (Vic) supporting documents available from TimeBase’s LawOne Service
FREE legislation news, delivered weekly.
Sign up now.#WeLoveLegislation Tweets
NEW information resources - great for training.