On Monday 13 April 2020 the NSW Government announced a raft of new temporary rental support measures for residential landlords and tenants affected by COVID-19. Under the new measures where a household has sustained a 25% or higher loss in income as a result of COVID-19:
- an interim 60 day moratorium on forced evictions for rental arrears related to COVID-19 will take effect – impacting existing matters before NCAT, and the commencement of new matters.
- after the 60-day moratorium, landlords may take steps to terminate a COVID-19 impacted tenancies for rental arrears, but this can only occur if the landlord has tried in good faith to negotiate a rent reduction with the tenant and seeking a termination is fair and reasonable in the circumstances of the specific case. NCAT will not deal with evictions due to rental arrears unless it is satisfied that negotiations have concluded.
In addition, under the changes:
- Evictions for reasons not related to rent arrears are also to be stayed to minimise avoidable housing disruption and movement. The usual periods of required notice under the Residential Tenancies Act will be increased from 30 days up to 90 days for terminations due to fixed or periodic leases ending, or other agreement breaches;
- Tenants will be protected from being ‘blacklisted’ for breaches of agreements resulting from the impact of COVID-19;
- Landlords may be eligible for a 25% land tax waiver or rebate, provided savings are passed on to tenants in financial distress; and
- Landlords will continue to be able to seek to recover premises due to their own genuine hardship and tenants will be able to apply to the NCAT to terminate a fixed-term tenancy on the basis of hardship.
We also caution that, as per the recent public letter from ASIC, in any rental negotiations (and indeed, generally) agents and landlords must not encourage tenants to access their superannuation early. This could be considered unlicensed financial advice and may not be in the best interests of the tenant. Such advice must only be provided by qualified and licensed financial advisers, not by agents or landlords.
IMPORTANT NOTICE – The information contained in this article is not intended to be comprehensive. It is general in nature and is not intended to be used as a substitute for legal, financial or other professional advice. You must seek specific professional advice tailored to your personal circumstances before taking any action based on this article.
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