It’s an incredibly difficult time for everyone, particularly for all the stakeholders in the Australian rental market. Tenants who are facing financial difficulties because of the economic destruction caused by COVID-19, the government is attempting to assist you.
A Six Month Moratorium on Evictions
The federal government has declared a six-month moratorium on evictions, effectively stopping landlords and property managers from evicting tenants from their abode.
Act on Good Faith
Every stakeholder needs to act on good faith. It is the cornerstone of our great country. Tenants must accurately describe their financial hardships, so that government resources are utilised on those that are most vulnerable. This is a time for landlords, tenants, property investors, and property managers to show compassion and work together.
Eligibility to Qualify for the Moratorium
Tenants must provide documents that illustrate the following
-Proof of job termination, or loss of hours.
-Proof of Government Income Support
-Proof of Prior Income.
Remain Calm and Find Solutions
The moratorium doesn’t mean that rent is waived off, it is accrued and must be paid. It is important not to panic and enter into a constructive negotiation with your landlord that helps all the stakeholders. Several avenues can be explored for assistance from the government.
Inform Change in Your Income Promptly
If you get your job back, you must start paying rent as agreed upon in your rental agreement. This is because the most vulnerable amongst us will require assistance. If you can attain financial and job security back, you must inform your landlord or property manager.
We Are All in This Together
All stakeholders are in this together. You must understand that landlords and property managers also have families to provide for, mortgages to pay, other financial commitments made before the economic mess that has been created due to COVID-19.
Landlords and property managers are figuring out ways to help you out. An example is, if a tenant approaches me and informs me that they can only pay a certain amount of rent, as a property manager I will advise your landlord to put the remaining amount in arrears to be paid when your financial struggle has passed.
Available Financial Assistance Offered by the Government
The Australian government has decided to subsidise 6 million employees with a $130 billion plan for a six month period. Businesses that have suffered tremendously because of COVID-19 are eligible for this aid. As a tenant, it is important to benefit from the lifelines offered by the government. The Australian Tax Office will pay an amount of $1500 per employee directly to businesses, every fortnight as part of the Jobkeeper payment and increased support has been provided through Jobseeker.
Queensland Government Initiative
If you are a tenant residing in Queensland, you can benefit from up to $2000 in rental assistance paid directly to your landlord. The Queensland government has earmarked $400 million for this task for both residential and commercial rented properties.
It is important to make sure you document any changes to your rental agreement via negotiations. All stakeholders have a shared responsibility to ensure they keep copies of the signed agreements for future reference. Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA) have issued new forms to document changes made via negotiations or temporary tenancy agreements, and they can be downloaded from their website. Tenants must ensure the following are included in the agreement.
- Rent Variations
- Terms of Entry
- Variations to an Agreement End Date
- Who is/isn’t Permitted to Live in the Property
- Next Steps at the End of the Rent Variation Period.
Short Advice to all Stakeholders
So far the government has pressed upon the need for negotiations in good faith by all parties concerned. However, it must intervene and play its part more actively. Leaving tenants and landlords to just sort it out themselves will have catastrophic consequences. It is of utmost importance that cash flow to the rental market is seamless and efficient. Residential Tenancies Authority is the body setup that helps the conciliation process between tenants and landlords. They can be contacted by texting them ‘Hi’ at 0480 000 782 or you can visit their website.
Show compassion, this is a crisis that requires you not to attempt to take advantage of the tenants, the government or the relief packages. You must be flexible, caring, and forthcoming. Heed the professional advice of property managers during a crisis like this to find the best path to take for your investments.
We have to advise everyone and share our expertise to help them make the best decisions. We have to advise tenants and property managers to come together and find an amicable solution.
We are all in this together and I urge you to get in contact with the Investarent team if you have any questions or issues during this difficult period.