COVID-19 and section 14 (rent default) notices - Tenants bulletin 21
13 July 2020
It’s important to know the difference between a section 14 (rent default) notice and a section 19 (remedial) notice. If you are a tenant unable to pay rent due to being affected by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, your landlord may issue a section 14 (rent default) notice for your rent default. If you are not financially affected by COVID-19, and not paying rent the landlord may issue a section 19 (remedial) notice. This eBulletin will focus on section 14 (rent default) notices and how they work.
The Residential Tenancies (COVID-19 Response) Act 2020 (the Act) has been created to ease the hardship tenants and landlords are experiencing due to COVID-19.
The Act includes a moratorium on evictions during the emergency period, from 30 March 2020 to 29 September 2020, to stop people moving from place to place and reduce homelessness. It is not a moratorium on paying rent and where tenants can afford to pay, they should continue to do so.
The Act provides different notices and processes for non-payment of rent, depending on the tenant’s circumstances. It’s important that the landlord chooses the process that correctly applies to their renter’s situation.
There are two different scenarios which apply where a tenant is not paying rent during the emergency period:
- The tenant is COVID-19 affected and unable to pay some, or all of their rent, or
- The tenant is not COVID-19 affected and refusing to pay their rent.
Section 14 (rent default) notice process
If you default on paying some, or all, of the rent during the emergency period and are experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19, your landlord may issue a section 14 (rent default) notice to terminate your tenancy on a date after the emergency period.
For the rent default notice to be served you need to have entered into a rent repayment agreement with your landlord, or have attempted to reach agreement though the department’s Residential Tenancies Mandatory Conciliation Service.
The date of issue of the rent default notice will depend on whether there is a rent repayment agreement in place at the time of default and the conduct of the parties. There is no new form for the rent default notice. The document used is the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 Form 1A or 1B, depending on the circumstances.
If a rent repayment agreement has not been reached and your landlord did not cooperate with the mandatory conciliation process, then they cannot issue a rent default notice. If you were not cooperative during the conciliation, then the notice can be issued to you immediately and the termination date can be straight after the end of the emergency period. Where both you and the landlord have cooperated but an agreement couldn't be reached, the rent default notice cannot be issued until three months after the emergency period. This is to give you a reasonable opportunity to catch up with any rent owing. Please refer to this breach process flowchart for more details.
Please see the department's Residential tenancies - COVID-19 response page for more information about renting rights and responsibilities during the COVID-19 emergency period.
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