Extra $40m in support for Victorian leasehold pub owners

07 May, 2020 by Vanessa Cavasinni

The Andrews Government has announced extra fiscal support for leasehold-owned pubs and clubs in Victoria, to assist them in rebounding after the shutdown is over.

The state government noted that pub operators are being hit particularly hard when it comes to rent, due to the significant capital investment it takes to secure long-term leaseholds. There is also considerable pressure on leasehold operators to meet their normal rent payments, as otherwise their liquor licenses revert to the freehold owners of the building.

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To combat these added pressures on leasehold operators, the Victorian Government announced that $40 million from the Business Support Fund has been made exclusively available to licensed venues with an individual annual turnover of up to $50 million, but who are not covered by the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme, for rent relief.

“Pubs and clubs are a vital part of Victorian life and it’s important that size does not mean that operators are locked out of support and protections in lease negotiations,” stated Minister for Coordination of Jobs, Precincts and Regions – COVID-19 Martin Pakula.

“We are supporting Victorian businesses so they can emerge from this crisis in the best shape possible and quickly rebuild their workforce.”

AHA (Vic) CEO Paddy O’Sullivan welcomed the Government assistance, which would relieve some of the pressure on leasehold operators.

“This is great news for Victoria’s pubs and hotels during their time of need.”

Free mediation services through the Victorian Small Business Commission available under the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme will also be extended to all tenants who hold a liquor licence.

The Victorian Small Business Commission will monitor the operation of these arrangements and provide advice to the Government. If required, the Government may seek further legislative changes, enforced retrospectively to 29 March 2020, to ensure these tenants are protected.

The Government will form a steering committee drawing membership from bodies including the Australian Hotels Association, Community Clubs Victoria, Music Victoria, the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Restaurant and Catering Association Victoria to advise on the operation of the fund. Former Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Mark Stone will chair the taskforce.