18 December 2020
In this issue:
- COVID-19 rent laws – how they affect you
- $600 to pay your power bill – apply for a household electricity credit
- Consumer Protection December to January office closures
COVID-19 rent laws – how they affect you
Under the Residential Tenancies (COVID-19 Response) Act 2020 the emergency period has been extended until 28 March 2021.
Extending the emergency period means that tenants have more protection if they are facing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.*
- Other provisions in the COVID-19 rent laws include:
- a ban on rent increases during the moratorium period;
- fixed-term tenancies will automatically convert to periodic tenancies if they expire during the period, unless another fixed-term agreement is entered into;
- park operators do not have to carry out non-urgent repairs if they are experiencing financial hardship or are not able to access the premises due to restrictions on movement; and
- tenants experiencing COVID-19 related financial hardship, who end a fixed-term tenancy prior to its end date will not incur break lease fees. They still need to leave the property in the same condition it was at the beginning of the tenancy, less fair wear and tear, and to make sure all rent payments are up to date.
The laws apply to all residential tenancies, including long-stay tenants in caravan parks, residential parks and lifestyle villages. More information on the rent laws are can be found on the COVID-19 response web page.
*Note: Tenants can still have their leases terminated and be evicted if they are causing serious damage to the property, posing a threat to the park operators or neighbours, not paying rent when they are not in financial hardship due to COVID-19, refusing to make a rent payment agreement with their park operators or if they abandon the property. Provisions supporting victims of family and domestic violence also continue to apply.
The Residential Tenancies Mandatory Conciliation Service
We offer a conciliation service to help park operators and tenants who have a COVID-19 related rental issue during the extended emergency period. The service helps people come together to reach agreement about disputes in a relaxed setting, without going to court. The goal is for all sides to reach a fair and achievable solution through informal discussion.
The Residential Rent Relief Grant Scheme
If you are a tenant who has lost your job due to COVID-19 or had your income reduced by 75 per cent or more, you can apply for a grant equivalent to four weeks’ rent up to $2,000. Those who are self-employed, a sole trader, a casual worker or a contractor, and are facing financial hardship, may also be eligible.
If you have already received the rent grant in the first emergency period which expired on 29 September 2020, and remain unemployed, or secured employment and then returned to unemployment due to COVID-19, then you can apply for the grant again. Applications will need to be received by 31 December 2020.
COVID-19 relief grant helps pay rent debt
The State Government is expanding the Residential Rent Relief Grant Scheme to assist tenants facing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic to pay their rent debt and maintain existing tenancies. The new phase of the relief grant will also assist landlords who reduced or waived rent during the emergency period under the Residential Tenancies (COVID-19 Response) Act 2020, which ends on 28 March 2021.
Landlords will be paid direct one-off grants equivalent to 75 per cent, up to $4, 000, of the accrued rent arrears incurred during the emergency period or the amount by which they reduced or waived rent. A key condition for landlords to receive the funding is that a fixed-term tenancy agreement of six months or longer is entered into with the current tenant.
For tenants to be eligible, they must satisfy all of the following criteria:
- are, or were, unemployed, having lost their job or 50 per cent of their income on or after 20 March 2020 due to COVID-19; or were in receipt of a Centrelink payment (excluding JobKeeper), during the emergency period;
- have less than $10,000 in savings;
- pay more than 25 per cent of their income in rent per week;
- are tenants or sub-tenants in a private residential property, or a resident in a rooming house or in a residential park;
- have a tenancy agreement in place as at 1 December 2020;
- have debt that was accrued or rent waived as at 1 December 2020; and
- have a bond lodged with the Bond Administrator.
Applications for the existing grant scheme will close on 31 December 2020. Tenants can get further details and apply at www.dmirs.wa.gov.au/covidrentgrant
. Applications for this new phase of the grant scheme to reduce rent arrears will open on 4 January 2021. See
Consumer Protection's media release
regarding the grant expansion.
Retirement village operators and residents may be eligible for a $600 credit towards household electricity costs. See the Department of Finance’s Household Electricity Credit fact sheet.
Consumer Protection December to January office closures
Please note our offices will be closed from Friday 25 December 2020 and will reopen on Monday 4 January 2021.
For licensing and Bonds Administration matters only, our Cannington office will be open Tuesday 29 December to Thursday 31 December 2020. Cashiers will be on site to take payments for licence and registration applications, tenancy bonds, and associations, cooperative and limited partnership applications.
The Landlord Hotline and mandatory conciliation service will continue to operate from Tuesday 29 December to Thursday 31 December 2020 and can be reached by calling 1300 304 054 and pressing 1.
For the Residential Rent Relief Grant Scheme you can call the dedicated number (08) 6251 2740 which will also be available from Tuesday 29 December to Thursday 31 December 2020.
For other urgent enquiries during the closure please visit our Consumer Protection Contact page
Wishing you all a safe and happy festive season.