Are you eligible for COVID-19 rent relief?

Are you eligible for COVID-19 rent relief? A state-by-state breakdown

Updated 24 April, 2020

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has impacted us all – for many, those impacts are financial. Restrictions introduced to flatten the curve have resulted in unprecedented job losses across the country, and full economic recovery is still a long way away.

Many renters have found themselves in a difficult position. Whether you have lost your job or are experiencing a significant drop in income, you may be eligible for support. In this article, we’ll breakdown COVID-19 rent relief for both renters and landlords. The majority of states have introduced key measures – such as eviction bans and rent increase bans.

Find out how your state measures up below.

rent relief coronavirus

State-by-state breakdown of COVID-19 tenancy support measures

State Eviction ban Rent increase ban
NSW 6 months No
VIC 6 months 6 months
QLD 6 months 6 months
WA 6 months 6 months
SA 6 months 6 months
TAS 4 months Commercial tenants only
ACT 6 months 6 months
NT

Related: Can I move house during coronavirus?

COVID-19 rent relief in New South Wales

NSW announced its $440 million package on April 13, with funds split evenly between the commercial and residential sectors. These new rules aim to keep tenants in their homes over the next six months.

NSW’s coronavirus rental relief package includes the following key measures:

  • A freeze in rent increases
  • A ban on lease termination for non-payment of rent
  • Landlords must negotiate with tenants in financial distress

The moratorium on forced evictions only applies if a tenant is in rental arrears and has lost more than 25 per cent of their income due to COVID-19.

Related: New NSW tenancy laws

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet welcomed the initiatives. “This provides a way forward for tenants and landlords so they can reach an agreement during this difficult period.” Mr Perrottet said.

COVID-19 rent relief in Victoria

Victoria announced a $500 million support package for both commercial and residential tenant and landlords, with emergency legislation passed by Victorian parliament on April 23.

The package includes the following:

  • A six-month moratorium on evictions
  • A six-month moratorium on rental increases
  • $420 million of land tax relief for landlords that discount rents for tenants with COVID-19-related hardship
  • $80 million in rental assistance for tenants that remain under financial hardship after mediation with their landlord – these funds will be paid directly to landlords

The COVID-19 rental relief has delayed many of Victoria’s rental reforms that were due to come into effect July 1, 2020. This includes 130 amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act, such as minimum property standards and banning evictions without reason. Reforms will be made law in 2021.

COVID-19 rent relief in Queensland

Introduced to parliament on April 22, Queensland’s support package allows tenants to claim rental relief if they have lost more than 25 per cent of their income due to COVID-19. Renters will also qualify for assistance if their rent is more than 30 per cent of their income – to claim this, tenants will need to supply financial proof.

In addition to a six-month moratorium on evictions, Queenslanders can also break their lease with a capped fee if they have lost 75 per cent of their income.

And finally, tenants can apply for a one-off COVID-19 Rental Grant equal to up to four weeks rent (maximum of $2,000). The grant is paid directly to the lessor.

To be eligible for the COVID-19 Rental Grant, you must meet specific criteria, including:

  • You have less than $10,000 in cash
  • You can provide evidence of attempts to negotiate a payment plan with your landlord or property manager
  • You have lost your job and applied for income support
  • You are waiting for your income support application to be approved

Applications close at 5pm, 27 April 2020. Learn more and apply for a COVID-19 Rental Grant HERE. 

COVID-19 rent relief in South Australia

New measures passed into law prohibit non-payment evictions for South Australian tenants affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Landlords are also banned from increasing rent prices. Tenants are encouraged to negotiate with the landlord. If these efforts prove unsuccessful and an agreement is not reached, the tenant or landlord can apply to the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT).

COVID-19 rent relief in Western Australia

Western Australia’s Residential Tenancies (COVID-19 Response) Bill 2020 has introduced several measures to support residential and commercial landlords and tenants impacted by the pandemic. Key features include:

  • A six-month moratorium on evictions
  • A ban of rent increases during the emergency period
  • Extra security for tenants with tenancy agreements due to expire during the emergency period – these will continue as a periodic agreement
  • A pause on lessor obligations to conduct ordinary repairs if they cannot do so due to COVID-19-related financial hardship or restriction on movement
  • The ability for tenants to end a fixed-term tenancy prior to its end day without incurring break lease fees

Premier Mark McGowan offered a few words of reassurance to WA’s tenants. “If you are a tenant who cannot pay rent due to the impact of the pandemic you will have protection under the law.”

In addition to the bill, the West Australian Government has announced a relief package of $154 million, including $30 million for grants of up to $2,000 to help residential tenants pay rent if they are suffering financial hardship.

COVID-19 rent relief in Tasmania

Tasmania passed its first rental relief laws in late March, including legislation that protects renters against eviction if they experience a loss of income off the back of COVID-19 restrictions. Further legislation includes inspection bans and provisions that enable tenants and landlords to end their lease if they are under severe financial hardship.

COVID-19 rent relief in the Northern Territory

At this point, there is little indication as to whether NT will follow other states and introduce special rules to protect tenants and landlords during the unfolding COVID-19 crisis.

COVID-19 rent relief in the Australian Capital Territory

The ACT has measures in place that provide financial relief to landlords that have reduced rental prices for their tenants. Landlords that cut rent by at least 25 per cent are entitled to tax relief. Further, any household in the ACT that experiences a 25 per cent decrease in their income can defer the payment of rates for 12 months.

Like other states, the ACT has also cemented a ban on evictions that will last until at least 30 June.

Moving forward

Regardless of where you live in Australia, the first step to seeking support is to contact your landlord or property manager. Tenants are encouraged to enter negotiations with their lessor before contacting authorities. And now more than ever, we need to be compassionate toward one another.

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