Passing of this Act means a moratorium on residential evictions is now law for those who are experiencing financial distress due to the impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
If you are a landlord, this might be a difficult time as you too may be struggling financially and require the incoming rent to pay your mortgage and bills for your property.
A key thing to remember is that this is a mortarium on evictions, not rent. A tenant is still required to pay rent and if they are unable to due to COVID-19, they (unless otherwise agreed) will have to pay it back at a later date.
A rental assistance package from the State Government of four weeks rent up to $2,000 has recently been implemented and the tenant may qualify for this program.
If the tenant genuinely cannot pay the rent in full, both you and the tenant may agree on a temporary plan, called a rent repayment agreement which outlines the agreed temporary changes.
If an agreement cannot be reached both you and the tenant will have a conciliation meeting conducted by the Commissioner for Consumer Protection in the first instance rather than attending Magistrates Court.
If your tenant has caused damage to your property, is posing a threat to you or their neighbours, or refusing to make a rent payment not associated with COVID-19, they can still have their lease terminated.
Tenants experiencing COVID-19 financial hardship who end a fixed-term tenancy prior to its end date will not incur break lease fees – however they will still be liable for any damage to the property and rent arrears.
If a fixed-term tenancy was due to expire during this time, the tenancy cannot be terminated but rather it will be converted to a periodical tenancy unless another fixed-term agreement is entered into and rent increases are not permitted.
Additionally, an owner does not have to conduct non-urgent repairs if you are experiencing financial hardship or can’t access the premises due to the current movement restrictions.
Author: REIWA President Damian Collins