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Commissioner's Blog: Financial relief for renters
If you’re a tenant who’s lost their job in the coronavirus crunch, you may be wondering how to afford what’s likely the household’s biggest weekly expense – the rent.
To relieve some of the burden, the State Government has announced a $30 million residential rental relief scheme, which will see payments equivalent of four weeks’ rent up to a maximum of $2000 granted to landlords on behalf of tenants in financial strife due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tenants can apply for the grant online, however there are some things they should know before taking that step.
To qualify you must be in ‘financial hardship’, meaning you’ve lost your job on or after March 20 due to COVID-19, have applied for, or are now receiving, Centrelink income support, plus your household must have less than $10,000 in savings and be spending at least 25 per cent of its available after-tax income on rent.
You must have agreed to a reduction in rent with your landlord or engaged in Consumer Protection’s conciliation service.
A tenancy bond would have been – or shortly will be – lodged with the Bond Administrator, and you must live in either a private residential property, rooming house or residential park.
Documentary evidence showing you meet the above criteria is required, as well as proof of citizenship, residency or an appropriate visa.
It’s important to remember that the grant must be applied for by the tenant, but will be paid directly to the landlord. Neither party will need to repay the grant, however the landlord needs to ensure the lower rent is payable for the minimum period or that the amount of the grant offsets any deferred rental debt. It is important that the tenant receives the benefits of the grant along with the landlord.
The scheme is due to expire on 29 September 2020, however it’s worth knowing that the total available for all grants is $30 million, meaning this may limit the time that applications can be made.
For further details and to apply for the grant, please refer to our website: https://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/consumer-protection/residential-rent-relief-grant-scheme
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