NSW renters will be offered protection from being evicted as the locked down state battles to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.
This means between now and 11 September, tenants who can’t pay their rent in full can’t be evicted.
“We will be mandating that there will be no lockouts or evictions during this period of time,” NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said.
Before bonds are recovered, tenants are locked out or evicted, commercial and retail landlords must first attempt mediation.
The NSW Government said it would introduce legislative amendments to enact the moratoriums.
The Tenants’ Union of NSW said they welcomed the moratorium, and said the financial support would make a difference.
"The stop on evictions for impacted renters gives those struggling with rent as a result of the lockdown greater certainty about their living situation and their ability to stay home,” said Tenants’ Union NSW CEO Leo Patterson Ross.
However, he said he was concerned about renters who were already facing eviction on ‘no grounds’.
“This is a bad time for people forced to move to be trying to find a new home, and undoes the strong government messaging to stay home,” Ross said.
He expressed concern about what would happen after the 60-day moratorium, adding that renters often feel the “prolonged” and “long-term” impact of lost income.
NSW Council of Social Services CEO Joanna Quilty also said the support was welcomed, but said the government may have to announce even further assistance.
“The eviction moratorium and additional measures to encourage rent reductions, are also welcome. However, if the lockdown is extended further, more support may be required.”
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NSW’s package also offers quite a bit for landlords, too: residential landlords who aren’t liable to pay land tax and lower rent for struggling tenants can apply for a grant of up to $1,500.
Commercial, retail and residential landlords can also apply for land tax relief equal to the value of rent reductions up to 100 per cent of the 2021 land tax year liability.
“We want to encourage retailers right across NSW to work with landlords to make sure that we all get through this difficult time together,” Perrottet said.
Renters and landlords impacted by COVID-19 are expected to work together, said NSW Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson.
“We expect these negotiations will be easier with landlords to be reimbursed up to $1,500 per tenancy when they reduce a tenant’s rent,” Anderson said.
“These measures hinge on landlords and tenants working together through this challenging period and we encourage both parties to enter negotiations in good faith.”
Acting NSW Executive Director of the Property Council of Australia Lauren Conceicao welcomed the move.
“It makes sense for land tax support [to] be used to help tenants and for a temporary stay on evictions to be put in place,” Conceicao said.