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COVID-19 Leasing Considerations Guide 2021 (Rest of AUS)

COVID-19 Leasing Considerations Guide 2021 (Rest of AUS)

State and Territory Governments are offering support and leasing considerations to aid tenants and landlords affected by COVID-19.

23rd July 2021
Reading Time: 4 minutes

There are a variety of leasing considerations that many Australian States and Territories have implemented to aid residential tenants and landlords as well as commercial tenants and landlords. These leasing considerations attempt to lessen the financial hardships felt by many people during this difficult time.

Types of relief available for residential tenants and landlords

If you have experienced financial difficulty in paying your rent during this current COVID-19 outbreak, it is always best to attempt a rental renegotiation. A rental renegotiation doesn’t have to be stressful and complicated. If you are considering renegotiating your rental agreement, see our ‘Rent Reduction Agreement‘. It is important to remember that each State and Territory have their own rules and provisions covering residential tenants. For information concerning NSW leasing considerations, see ‘Leasing Considerations (NSW)‘.

Queensland

The Queensland Government have a variety of protective leasing considerations for residential tenants. These considerations were implemented on 1 May 2021 and will continue to run until 30 September 2021. The leasing considerations offer residential tenants with special protections regarding the following:

  • Allowing tenants experiencing domestic and family violence to end their tenancies quickly during the pandemic,
  • Protective rules for tenants unable to pay their rent – this will protect tenants from being listed on the tenant database for rental arrears caused by the most recent COVID-19 outbreak,
  • Limits placed on reletting costs for eligible tenants who end their tenancies earlier than their tenancy agreement period and,
  • Short term tenancy statement extensions for moveable dwellings.

For more information, see the Queensland Government’s website here.

Western Australia

The Western Australian Government have a range of relief grants for residential tenants. The following support grants that are currently in place include:

  • Residential Rent Relief Grant Scheme and,
  • Residential Tenancies Mandatory Conciliation Service.

The Rent Relief Grant, introduced back in 2020, provides financial support to tenants struggling to meet rent payments following the end of the latest WA emergency period (ending 28 March 2021). The grant is capped at $2,000 per tenancy. Furthermore rent arrears assistance grants are also available to help tenants pay outstanding rental debts that arose before 1 December 2020. This grant offers tenants financial support for 75% of their rent arrears, capped at $4,000. To check your eligibility for these grants, click here.

South Australia

The South Australian Government have allowed for temporary residential tenancy law measures to remain in place up until 1 September 2021. These residential tenancy measures aim to protect tenants from the following:

  • Landlords must not increase rental amounts if the tenant is suffering financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,
  • Acts by tenants under SA tenancy laws that would usually amount to a breach of their residential tenancy agreement will not amount to such a breach, e.g. failing to pay rent on time,
  • A tenant cannot be evicted by a landlord or Tribunal due to a failure to pay rent in circumstances where the tenant is suffering financial hardship as a result of COVID-19.

Other States and Territories

Victoria: The Victorian Government’s temporary protections for residential tenants ended on 28 March 2021. This includes the end of tenant eviction protection, rent reduction mediation service, rent relief grant scheme, and freeze on rent arises.

Australian Capital Territory: The Government’s rules relating to tenant eviction protections have ended. However, the Government has announced that a ‘payment order provision’ will operate until 30 September 2021. This payment order provision will allow landlords to make a payment order instead of an eviction order for tenants who were unable to pay rent in 2020.

Types of relief available for commercial tenants and landlords

Many State and Territory Governments have implemented relief options available for tenants, in small and medium-sized enterprise commercial leases, who have been affected by the recent COVID-19 outbreak.

Queensland

The Queensland Government have permanently established the Queensland Small Business Commissioner to tackle the increasing number of commercial leasing enquires and disputes arising from the current COVID-19 outbreak. If you are having trouble paying your rent as a direct result of the current outbreak, try and enter into negotiations with your landlord. However, the Commission will provide commercial tenants and landlords with:

  • Free access to dispute assistance and mediation until 30 September 2021 and,
  • Easy access to small business tenancy dispute lodgements.

Victoria

The Victorian Government’s Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme has come to an end, however there are still supporting measures available. If you are experiencing financial difficulties as a result of COVID-19 and cannot come to a rental agreement with your commercial landlord, the Victorian Small Business Commission is offering free and impartial mediations. The mediations offered by the Commission aim to resolve any commercial rent disputes.

If you are a commercial landlord, you may be eligible to apply for the 2021 Victorian Land Tax Relief. This land tax relief did close on 30 June 2021. However, the State Revenue Office of Victoria have stated they are accepting late application. These late applications must be lodge before 31 December 2021. The land tax relief aims to provide land tax reductions and deferrals for landlords in the same manner as the NSW land tax concession.

Other States and Territories

Western Australia: The Western Australian Governments Commercial Tenancy laws have ended. This includes the end of tenancy eviction protections, prohibitions on rent increases and obligations on landlords to give rent relief.

South Australia: The South Australian Governments Emergency Response for Commercial Leases have ended.

Key Takeaways

The economic effect of the coronavirus can result in both tenants and landlords experiencing extreme financial hardship. It is important for tenants and landlords to work together in order to come to fair and reasonable rental agreements, so to minimise financial hardships felt on both ends. Each State and Territory have their own rules and protective measures to help tenants and landlords. However, in some States, these rules and proactive measures have expired and no longer apply. Continue to keep up to date with your State or Territories rules, grants and schemes to ensure you are getting the financial assistance you need.

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Author
Mai Sarkissian

Mai is a Digital Marketing Coordinator at Lawpath, working as part of the Content Team. She is in her final year of a Bachelor of Laws degree at the University of Wollongong. She is interested in Business Law and Employment Law.