The New South Wales Government has announced a $440m package to assist tenants and landlords impacted by COVID-19.
The assistance will be in addition to other assistance provided by the Federal government, including the JobSeeker and JobKeeper allowance and the mandatory code for commercial tenants and landlords.
It also complements the six-month moratorium on evictions of tenants impacted by COVID-19 previously announced by the Federal government.
$10 million will go towards the Office of Small Business for the purposes of employing additional mediators to help landlords and tenants negotiate an outcome where they haven’t been able to do that themselves.
While the NSW Tenants Union will be provided $2.3 million to immediately resource them to assist with answering tenant queries.
For NSW landlords and small businesses
NSW Finance and Small Business Minister, Damian Tudehope, says the package includes a model to help landlords and tenants negotiate to reach a workable outcome during the pandemic.
“If you’re a business which has been impacted by the COVID crisis, we want you to have a framework against which you can negotiate an outcome, an outcome to be able to say ‘I will be able to open’,” said Tudehope.
The framework includes:
- Land tax relief for landlords who provide rental relief for their tenants for the next three months.
- A 25% rebate or waiver for landlords who pass on an equivalent amount of rental relief to their tenants.
- It complements a waiver and deferral of pay roll tax for small businesses, as well as $10,000 grants for some small businesses
NSW Treasurer, Dominic Perrottet, said the framework is the best way to secure the future of tenancies, particularly commercial arrangements.
“The reality is the more that a landlord looks after their tenant and the more that a tenant works with their landlord, the better off that both will be as we move through this pandemic,” said Perrottet.
For NSW tenants
NSW Better Regulation and Innovation Minister, Kevin Anderson, said the new assistance package and support measures will go a long way to supporting tenants.
“We want them to know that they are not alone when they are suffering from COVID-19,” said Anderson.
The package/measures include:
- Six-month eviction ban on tenants in rent arrears due to being impacted by COVID-19
- A 60-day stop on termination notices by landlords to tenants
- A formal negotiation process – if landlords and tenants cannot come to an agreement on rent, they will go through to a tribunal who will then make an order.
- $2.3m will go to the Tenants Union of NSW to help support tenants who have questions about their tenancy
- Fair Trading to provide a template for tenants to find out how to negotiate with their landlord for rent relief
- Tenants not impacted by COVID-19 must continue paying rent on time
Updates to tenancy regulations are taking place across all the states and territories for both commercial and residential tenancies.
The Victorian Government says it is working towards assistance measures to help landlords and tenants during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We know this is an incredibly difficult time for renters and landlords and we’re working hard to get an effective resolution for everyone as quickly as possible,” a government spokesperson said Friday.
“The National Cabinet has agreed to a moratorium for six months on evictions for both residential and commercial tenants if they are struggling to pay rent because of financial hardship due to coronavirus, and we will have more to say on this soon.
Meanwhile, Consumer Affairs Victoria has overturned a short-lived ban on physical inspections of occupied properties following backlash from the state’s real estate industry.
CAV updated its website on Easter Monday to state “private inspections of an occupied/tenanted residential property are permitted” when just the real estate agent and the person inspecting the property are present.
Under the revised rule, any resident whose home is being inspected by a prospective buyer or tenant will need to temporarily leave their home for one of the reasons permitted under the stay-at-home directions, including to obtain food and supplies, for exercise, care and other compassionate reasons, or for work or education.
It’s a backflip from CAV’s previous directive late on Good Friday eve, that agents could “no longer conduct public or in-person private inspections of tenanted or occupied properties.
Property Council of Queensland executive director Chris Mountford says Queensland has agreed to refund three months of land tax, defer the implementation of the foreign land tax surcharge, and defer the issuing of next year’s land tax assessments for eligible landlords – but the initiative is for commercial, retail and industrial only.
There is also a New Rental Grant for households affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A one-off payment of up to 4 weeks rent (maximum of $2000) will be available to eligible tenants who do not have access to other financial assistance, with the grant paid directly to the landlord.
The WA Government has introduced the waiving of rental payments for any lease holders from state government agencies and trading enterprises.
There has been a halt to evictions, reduction of rent by mutual agreement between the landlord and tenant, and tenants are permitted to break their lease due to hardship.
The state also decided that general repairs to rentals would not take place, only emergency repairs. There is also a limitation on inspections by the agent and landlord that can take place.
The ACT, NT, and SA are still in discussions as to how they will help tenants and landlords in their states.