More financial help to secure tenancies after moratorium ends
- Fourth phase of rent grant scheme to soften the blow of expected rent increases
- Grants give tenants and landlords an incentive to continue current tenancies
- Strategy aims to reduce evictions and large rent increases after March 28, 2021
More financial assistance is being offered by the McGowan Government to tenants and landlords with the aim of securing current tenancies when the moratorium on evictions and rent increases ends on March 28, 2021.
The latest extension to the Residential Rent Relief Grant Scheme (RRRGS) will target tenants who may struggle to pay expected rent increases when the moratorium ends and with the rental market in Western Australia being tight.
To qualify for this fourth phase in assistance, tenants who are facing a significant rent increase, greater than the normal market rate of five per cent a year, can apply, but their landlord must agree to a fixed-term lease of at least six months duration starting from the moratorium end date. This grant is capped at $2,000 per tenancy.
The tenant will also need to be in financial hardship by: being in receipt of a Centrelink payment (excluding JobKeeper); having less than $10,000 in savings; and paying more than 25 per cent of their income in rent per week.
Applications for this phase are expected to open in late February and will be processed by Consumer Protection.
This new initiative is additional to the phase three grants announced in December 2020 which will pay 75 per cent of a tenant's rent debt or rent waived, up to a maximum of $4,000, to the landlord. Applications for this grant are now open and will close on June 28, 2021.
A total of $30 million was allocated as part of overall Residential Rent Relief Grant Scheme funding, as part of COVID relief and the WA Recovery Plan. Further details, including how to apply, are available at www.dmirs.wa.gov.au/covidrentgrant
Comments attributed to Commerce Minister John Quigley:
"So far more than nine million dollars in rental assistance has gone to about 6,500 WA landlords with eligible tenants since the scheme first began on May 1 last year. These earlier grants were equivalent to four weeks' rent up to a maximum of $2,000.
"The strategy behind this continued financial support for tenants and landlords is to help smooth the transition from the current emergency measures back to a normal rental market.
"The grants will provide relief to the market while we implement the longer term initiatives, such as the WA Housing Strategy, to increase the supply of rental properties in WA.
"This rental assistance is aimed at providing an incentive for landlords to keep rent increases to a reasonable level and to maintain current tenancies after the moratorium ends and at a time when tenants will be at their most vulnerable.
"We hope this action will reduce the number of evictions or unaffordable rent increases that may come after March 28 and prevent homelessness. It will allow tenants some breathing space to find employment and get back onto their feet financially.
"We realise that there are many tenants and landlords experiencing financial difficulty due to the restrictions created by COVID-19, and we are committed to supporting those people in the months ahead.
"Consumer Protection is still accepting applications for grants designed to deal with tenants' rent debt and there is also a conciliation service available to assist tenants and landlords to reach a mutually agreeable post-moratorium rental contract."
Media contact: Minister's office - 6552 6800
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