Commissioner's blog: Second bite at rent relief
Even though Western Australians are getting back on their feet post the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, there are some who are still struggling to make ends meet due to losing their jobs or suffering reduced hours at work.
If you’re a tenant whose income has dropped 75 per cent or more, you should know that the Residential Rent Relief Grant Scheme – which covers four-weeks’ rent up to the value of $2,000 – is still available.
Renters who were not able to access the grant earlier in the year are encouraged to revisit their application to assess if they are now eligible, while tenants who have already received a grant can apply for a second time if they’re still struggling financially due to COVID-19. The grants are paid directly to landlords, who must reduce the rent by the amount received.
In addition to monetary help, a number of other tenancy relief measures have been extended until 28 March 2021, such as the moratorium on rent increases.
Anyone who wants to take advantage of the low rental vacancy rates by purchasing an investment property does not, under COVID-19 tenancy laws, face any restriction on how much rent they charge. The only exception is where there is an existing tenant in the property at the time of purchase, as the existing lease arrangements and the rent at the established rate transfers to the new landlord.
When it comes to evictions, tenants cannot be forced to leave for non-payment of rent if they have been financially affected by the pandemic, but they can be evicted for damage, anti-social or illegal behaviour or refusing to pay rent if they are not in financial hardship, as well as failing to repay under a negotiated rental agreement.
If a landlord is in financial hardship and needs to move back into their property, they can apply to the court to terminate a tenancy. Landlords are also within their rights to sell their investment property if they wish.
The Landlord’s Hotline is taking calls on 1300 304 054 for landlords who are unsure about what they can or cannot do.
To apply for the rent relief grant visit: www.dmirs.wa.gov.au/covidrentgrant
Commissioner for Consumer Protection
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