Media Release: Co-share Workplace Complaints – Company’s Like Justco Using Loopholes.

Thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) facing financial difficulties as a result of the economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are not covered by the federal government’s Mandatory Code of Conduct for commercial rent relief.

Asset finance brokerage Talk to a Broker (TTAB) leases office space in the Sydney CBD from international flexible workspace provider Just Co, who have refused their application for a rental deferral in exchange for a 12-month lease extension.

TTAB Director William Hong said Just Co was now demanding TTAB pay outstanding rent in full or incur late fees and the loss of their security deposit.

“Just Co have advised us that because we have a co-share arrangement and not a technical lease agreement that they don’t have to follow the code of conduct introduced by the federal government in April,” Mr Hong said.

“Unfortunately, thousands of SMEs like TTAB who have co-working agreements are   vulnerable to an unsympathetic landlord because they are not covered by the Mandatory Code of Conduct for commercial rent relief.

“We are now being bullied into paying immediately and have no protection like those businesses that have a formal lease.

“Under the Code of Conduct measures, eligible tenants are entitled to receive rent reductions in the form of waivers or deferrals to enable them to navigate the uncertain waters of the Covid‑19 pandemic.

“The Code sets out several ‘good faith’ leasing principles, to be separately legislated and regulated by each state and territory and applied to all SME tenancies that are suffering financial stress or hardship.”

Mr Hong said since the COVID-19 restrictions were imposed, TTAB has faced significant financial hardship despite not technically qualifying for Job Keeper assistance.

“We have tried negotiating with Just Co in good faith under the guiding principles of the code to also offer to pay out the majority of the outstanding lease out of our own directors’ bank accounts as the business can’t afford it, but this also was rejected,” he said.

“It looks as if we may have no other option but to refer the matter to the NSW Small Business Commissioner for independent mediation.”

Further inquiries: David Maher Mb: 0407 382 976

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