With lockdowns occurring in three Australian states at the moment, various state governments have announced rent relief, moratoriums on evictions and landlord relief.
Eagle Protect has put together this overview as to the current state of assistance available for both tenants and landlords in lockdown affected states.
According to a recent survey by ME Bank, 77 per cent of Queensland renters and 72 per cent of NSW tenants are now experiencing rental stress. The tightening rental market in many major Australian cities is likely to be exacerbating the situation.
It’s critical to note two points: the National Cabinet leasing code of conduct was established last year to set up protections, but with each state dictating its own support measures, it will vary from state to state. Secondly, the situation is ever-changing, so we recommend speaking to your insurance account manager to determine how your landlord policy will respond to the current changes.
New South Wales
The Greater Sydney lockdown is stretching on, and the government has announced rent relief measures. Currently, there is a tenancy moratorium in place in New South Wales that aims to limit tenants’ eviction due to rental arrears. This is in place until 11 September 2021.
Additionally, there is support for commercial landlords, which provides protection under the Retail and Other Commercial Leases (COVID-19) Regulation 2021. Under the regulation, landlords are not able to lockout or evict tenants without first going to mediation.
There is also land tax relief, with both commercial and residential landlords eligible for tax relief, determined by either the turnover of the business in commercial situations or the income lost by private tenants.
As of 1 June this year, the temporary changes to renting laws because of COVID-19 have ended. This includes the end of the eviction moratorium, rent reduction mediation service, rent relief grant scheme, and freeze on rent rises.
The news is better for commercial landlords, with those whose tenants have seen turnover at 40% of pre-pandemic levels required to pay only 40% of their rent. The Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme is available for businesses with less than $50 million in turnover depleted by at least 30% eligible for support.
Covid and lockdown specific rental assistance and an eviction moratorium ended back in May. However, a number of arrangements will remain in place until 30 September. This includes protections for tenants against being listed in a tenancy database for rent arrears caused by COVID-19 impacts and limitations on the reletting costs for tenants who end their fixed-term tenancies early.
For commercial landlords, rent relief measures expired in January, but various mediation services are still available and have been earmarked to stay.
In South Australia, rent relief measures and land tax relief in response to COVID-19 expired earlier this year. With the state currently out of lockdown, it is unlikely that rental support will be introduced.
Commercial landlords are unlikely to see any relief either, with breaches of a lease after January being referred to normal enforcement measures, such as eviction.
Despite only having one short lockdown recently, Western Australia has assured rental tenants that the Grant Scheme introduced in 2020, has been expanded. The scheme will offer future rent support for tenants who are struggling financially to meet rent payments after the end of the emergency period. Grants are capped.
Northern Territory and Tasmania
Given that these states currently have no lockdowns and have largely avoided larger outbreaks, there are limited rental relief assistance programs.
In Tasmania, the changes to rental evictions, rental increases, and general repairs and maintenance expired on 31 January 2021.
No new commercial rent relief measures have been established in the Northern Territory, or Tasmania since the National Cabinet’s code of conduct expired earlier this year.