With a six-month eviction moratorium agreed nationally, we look at what else is on offer from states and territories
New South Wales
The government has offered a $440m package of land tax relief, split evenly between commercial tenancies and residential tenancies.
Residential landlords are eligible for a land tax waiver or rebate of up to 25% of their 2020 tax liability if they pass the saving on to tenant in financial distress. The rest of the land tax can be deferred for a three-month period for landlords who claim the land tax concession.
The government has introduced an interim 60-day stop on landlords seeking to evict tenants due to rental arrears if a person in the house has suffered financial hardship due to COVID-19, meaning a reduction of 25% or more in household income. Legislation will follow for a six-month restriction on rental arrears evictions.
Landlords can apply to the NSW civil and administrative tribunal to seek eviction if they are in financial distress at any time, and after the 60-day stop “if it is fair and reasonable in the circumstances of the specific case”.
Under the scheme, a landlord or managing agent must enter into negotiations with a tenant who is struggling to make rental payments, with dispute resolution by NSW Fair Trading.
Unpaid rent accrues as arrears during this period, but tenants will not be blacklisted.
The government has offered a $500m package comprised of $420m in land tax relief for commercial and residential tenancies and $80m for residential tenants in hardship.
If a landlord provides tenants impacted by corona virus with rent relief, they will be eligible for a 25% discount on their land tax, while any remaining land tax can be deferred until March 2021.
Tenants who are unable to secure a rent reduction can enter a dispute resolution process overseen by Consumer Affairs Victoria, with binding mediation.
Tenants can apply for grants of up to $2,000 from an $80m assistance fund. To be eligible, renters will need to have registered their revised agreement or gone through mediation, have less than $5,000 in savings and still be paying at least 30% of their income in rent.
Evictions will be banned for residential tenancies for six months, except in some circumstances, and rent increases paused for the same period.
The government has provided a $400m land tax relief program for residential and commercial tenancies, allowing landlords to apply for a waiver of up to three months and a deferral of three months of land tax.
To be eligible, landlords must “provide rent relief to the affected tenants of an amount at least commensurate with the land tax relief”.
The government will make one-off payments of up to four weeks rent (to a maximum of $2,000) for those affected by Covid-19 who do not have access to other financial assistance and meet eligibility criteria, including having $10,000 or less in cash and savings.
Queensland will legislate a six-month moratorium on evictions due to rent arrears caused by Covid-19 and property owners will be prohibited from evicting a tenant if their lease expires during the public health crisis.
Australian Capital Territory
Landlords are entitled to a land tax rebate if they reduce tenants’ rent by at least 25% for up to six months. The government will match 50% of the rent reduction to a maximum of $2,600 over six months or $100 per week.
The ACT government will support tenants under financial duress due to Covid-19 through a short-term moratorium on evictions, temporary freeze of rental increases and prevention of blacklisting as a result of being unable to pay rent.
Residential tenants and landlords may reach an agreement to delay rental payments if a tenant is not earning income. Any outstanding rent during this period will be a debt owed to your landlord but is interest free for the six months of the moratorium period.
Tasmania has already legislated its moratorium on evictions. Any notice to vacate issued by an owner to a tenant is of no effect until 30 June 2020. This measure will be reviewed after 90 days and may be extended.
The Tasmanian building and construction minister, Elise Archer, told Guardian Australia that residential landlords could contact the state revenue office if they are experiencing hardship and are unable to meet land tax payments.
“The commissioner of state revenue will consider deferring any outstanding land tax until 30 June 2020 or may organised alternative payment arrangements,” she said. “No interest will apply to any outstanding 2019-20 land tax debt.”
South Australia has already legislated a short-term moratorium on eviction for non-payment of rent due to severe financial distress, as well as banning rent increases.
Tenants cannot be blacklisted as a result of circumstances caused by Covid-19.
The South Australian government has cut land tax by $189m from July, and extended a $13m relief package to allow deferment of 2019-20 land tax bills by six months.
The South Australian treasurer, Rob Lucas, has signaled further land tax relief measures will be announced.
The government has introduced legislation for a six-month moratorium on evictions, prohibition on rent increases during the emergency period, and providing that fixed term tenancies due to expire will continue as a periodic agreement.
The Northern Territory government has recalled parliament to sit on 24 April to pass more corona virus emergency legislation, including residential tenancy laws.
For the latest advice, information, copy and resources, go to
Australia's Landlords and Tenants: What Support Is Available in the Coronavirus Crisis?
Paul Karp - https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/17/australias-landlords-and-tenants-what-support-is-available-in-the-coronavirus-crisis
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