Today the NSW Government announced it was allocating $440 million towards rent relief for tenants and landlords in both commercial and residential leases.
The new emergency measures, funded for six months, will temporarily protect tenants who are unable to pay their rent as a result of COVID-19.
READ MORE: More than 5000 people to be quarantined in Tasmania
I’m a residential tenant and I can’t pay my rent because of COVID-19. Can I be kicked out of my house?
Not immediately, no. The support package includes a moratorium on applications for forced evictions due to rental arrears for those financially disadvantaged by COVID-19.
A moratorium is a “temporary prohibition of an activity”, so you cannot be forcefully evicted without notice.
You will however have to enter into mandatory negotiations with your landlord or managing agent prior to forcefully ending a tenancy.
So what happens in the meantime? I can’t pay my rent, and my landlord doesn’t receive any money, are we both at a loss?
Under the new support package, where a household has suffered a loss of income equal to or greater than 25 per cent due to coronavirus, there is a new obligation to enter into negotiations with their landlord.
This will be handled by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT), and tenants will be protected from eviction until NCAT is satisfied that negotiations – potentially about reducing rent – have concluded.
What happens to the missed rent payments in the meantime?
According to the NSW government, unpaid rent will accrue as arrears during this period. It will need to be paid at some point by the renters. Renters could get hit with a big bill by the time they are back at work.
If I miss rental payments won’t I be blacklisted, essentially destroying my rental history forever?
You will not be blacklisted. Under the new scheme tenants will be protected from being added to tenancy databases for breaches of agreements resulting from COVID-19 impacts.
I’m a landlord who is struggling to pay the mortgage because my tenants can’t afford their rent. What’s in the support package for me?
Under the new scheme, residential landlords will be eligible for a land tax waiver or rebate of up to 25 per cent if they pass on the savings to tenants in financial distress.
Land tax is based on the combined value of all taxable land you own, not on each individual property.
The general threshold for an investment property is $734,000, meaning the land tax you’ll pay is $100 plus 1.6 per cent of land value above the threshold.
For example, if your investment property is worth $1 million, in 2020 your land tax is $4,356 which could be waived entirely during COVID-19.
This is all way too confusing. Who can I speak to about this?
The NSW government advises that tenants, landlords and agents can find up to date information at nsw.gov.au.
If that doesn’t answer your questions, NSW Fair Trading’s dispute resolution service will be available to assist if the parties are unable to re-negotiate and agree on new rental arrangements.
You can always seek advice from your local Tenancy Advocacy Service which can be found here.
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You can also get up-to-date information from the Federal Government’s Coronavirus Australia app, available on the App Store, Google Play and the Government’s WhatsApp channel.
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