COVID-19 EMERGENCY MEASURES For Tenants SKM Lawyers Sydney



April 13, 2020

Where a household is struggling to make rental payments and has suffered a loss of income equal to or greater than 25 per cent due to COVID-19, there is a new obligation to enter into negotiations with their landlord or managing agent, prior to seeking a forced end to the tenancy.

Tenants will be protected from eviction until NCAT is satisfied that negotiations have concluded. Any unpaid rent will accrue as arrears during this period.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the Government was allocating around $440 million towards rent relief in the form of land tax waivers or rebates – with the expectation that this would be split approximately evenly between business and residential landlords.

Mr Perrottet said residential landlords would be eligible for a land tax waiver or rebate of up to 25 per cent if they passed the saving on to tenants in financial distress.

“This is effectively a $220 million commitment in the residential sector from the NSW Government to help encourage both landlords and tenants to reach agreement on rent reductions during this difficult time,” Mr Perrottet said.

“It’s also important that tenants suffering financial distress as a result of COVID-19 will not be blacklisted for the accrual of rental arrears during this time.”

Tenants and landlords will also have access to assistance from Fair Trading and access to the NCAT to resolve matters after the end of the 60-day period:

 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, backed by Fair Trading’s existing legal powers;  NCAT will be available to make appropriate orders in light of the current circumstances where the parties are unwilling or unable to reach an agreement and action is taken to seek an eviction;  Action is also being taken to ensure that evictions for reasons not related to rent arrears are also stayed to minimise avoidable housing disruption and movement. The usual periods of required notice under the Residential Tenancies Act will be increased from the minimum of 30 days up to 90 days for terminations due to fixed or periodic leases ending, or other agreement breaches.  Landlords will however continue to be able to seek to recover premises due to their own genuine hardship. Tenants will also continue to be able to apply to the Tribunal to terminate a fixed-term tenancy on the basis of hardship.  Tenants will be protected from being added to tenancy databases (or ‘blacklists’) for breaches of agreements resulting from COVID-19 impacts.

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