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RESIDENTIAL TENANCIES IMPACTED BY COVID-19: ADDITIONAL TRANSITIONAL PERIOD FOR EVICTIONS AND INCREASED FINANCIAL SUPPORT

The latest wave of Covid-19 lockdowns has led to mass closures of many stores and businesses, causing many people to suffer financial difficulties. In support of struggling residential tenants, a moratorium on evictions has prevented impacted tenants from being evicted for rental arrears during the period of 14 July 2021 to 11 November 2021.

To be eligible under the moratorium, the tenant must show that they have been impacted due to Covid-19 and continue to pay at least 25% of the rent payable under the rental agreement.

 

  • Transitional period

In a recent update by the NSW government, a transitional period was introduced to run from 12 November 2021 until 12 February 2022. Tenants affected during the moratorium period are exempt from eviction for arrears during this period unless:

1.If the landlord and tenant have agreed to an arrears repayment plan:

-the tenant fails to make repayments on two or more consecutive occasions, and

-it is otherwise fair and reasonable in the circumstances for the tenant not to be exempt.

OR

2.If the landlord and tenant have not agreed to a repayment plan:

-Both parties participated in good faith in a formal arrears repayment negotiation process with NSW Fair Trading, and

-it is otherwise fair and reasonable in the circumstances for the tenant not to be exempt.

 

The Tribunal will assess if it is fair and reasonable for the tenant to not be evicted according to:

-Any negotiation of a repayment plan;

-Any payments made towards the arrears;

-Nature of the financial hardship by both parties;

-Availability and affordability of reasonable alternative accommodations;

-If landlord has received any financial assistance; and

-Special vulnerability of the tenant.

 

  • Residential disputes

Both landlord and tenants should retain as much documents as possible as in the event of a dispute occurring, evidence will need to be provided in support of the case. This is why it is important for both parties in a tenancy to put any rental agreement in writing and the proper legal form as evidence.

At Sun Lawyers, our experienced property lawyers can assist you with the drafting of any rental agreements. A well drafted agreement will remove any ambiguity regarding the terms of the rental repayments plan agreed while also succinctly outlining the responsibilities of both parties. We always recommend all parties in a tenancy impacted by Covid-19 to protect themselves at the first instance to avoid any costly and stressful legal dispute in the future.

If you are facing a residential dispute, we can also assist to review the evidence and circumstances of the case to advise you on your standing in the dispute.

 

  • Financial Support

The Residential Tenancy Support Payment for rental reductions has also been increased from $1,500 to up to $4,500 per tenancy agreement. Landlords can make separate claims for each of their rental premises they own.

However, Landlords can claim either the Support Payment or the land tax benefit and cannot request the tenant to repay them the reduced rent covered by the payment or benefit.

Applications will open from Friday 24 September and is available for all landlords who agree to reduce the rent for tenants impacted by Covid-19 from 14 July 2021.

For further information regarding the Residential Tenancy Support Payment, please visit our previous article

If you have any queries regarding residential tenancies, please do not hesitate to contact us at any time at 02 9267 4988 or Vincent.hui@sunlaws.com

WHAT CAN I DO IF I MISSED THE DEADLINE FOR THE FIRST HOME OWNER GRANT?

The First Home Owner Grant (FHOG) provides a $10,000 grant to help eligible first home buyer purchase their first home and achieving this important milestone in life. In NSW, the FHOG has an application time limit of 12 months from the settlement date which would usually be ample time for most people to apply for the grant. However, some people may miss this deadline due to personal reasons or other circumstances, losing out on the once-in-a-lifetime benefit.

One such client, Mr C, came to us to review his situation.

Due to a family member passing away shortly after settlement, Mr C was extremely busy with taking care of matters after the death, while recovering from grief and other personal struggles. In a blink of an eye, much time has passed without Mr C realising it and he had missed the deadline for the FHOG by more than 2 years!

This was definitely not your normal everyday situation, which was why Mr C came to our lawyers asking for help. Our experienced property lawyers analysed and reviewed his situation to write a submission appealing to the State Revenue office for their understanding and leniency. After several rounds of assessment and with much consideration from the State Revenue Office our appeal for Mr C was accepted and approved. In addition to that, our appeal was able to help Mr C receive the $15,000 grant as per the policy in 2015 instead of just the expected $10,000 in the current policy.

Unfortunately, not everyone would have been like Mr C, who tried to find a solution for in his situation.

If you believe that you have a good reason why you had missed the application deadline, you can always approach us to review your situation. We can assist you by drafting an empathetic and clear submission to the authorities, which the authorities will then decide on a case by case basis. Although situations like this may seem like a lost cause, it is always worth a try to ask for leniency to obtain the significant $10,000 grant.

If you have any queries regarding the First Home Owner Grant or other property law matters, please do not hesitate to contact us at 02 9267 4988 or Vincent.hui@sunlaws.com.

 

NEW NSW RESIDENTIAL TENANCY SUPPORT PACKAGE – BENEFITING BOTH TENANTS AND LANDLORDS DURING THE 2021 COVID LOCKDOWN

In the ongoing Covid-19 lockdown in Sydney, many businesses and shops were forced to close causing many Australians to have their jobs impacted, losing income and face financial difficulty. With the announcement of a further 4 weeks of lockdown ending late August, many tenants are facing the prospect of being unable to pay rent.

 

 

With the announcement of NEW TEMPORARY MEASURES, both tenants and landlords will receive much needed support from the NSW government. The measures provide hope for all residential tenancies by protecting financially impacted tenants from eviction, while providing assistance to landlords who re-negotiate rent with the tenants.

 

Tenants – Moratorium on evictions for rental arrears

For the period of 14 July to 11 September 2021, the NSW government has re-introduced the moratorium on eviction and all tenants who are unable to meet their rental payments due the effects of the Covid lockdown cannot be evicted.

To be eligible for the protection, the tenant must fulfil the following criteria:

  1. Rent paying household members are affected by Covid-19 by loss of employment, work hours or income or had to stop working because they were ill with Covid; and
  2. Reduction of 25% or more (inclusive of any government assistance) in the household’s take home weekly income compared to the 4 weeks prior to 26 June 2021; and
  3. Continue to pay at least 25% of the rent payable.

However, this protection only covers rent payments, therefore the tenant can still be evicted for other lawful reasons.

 

Landlords – BRAND NEW Grant for renegotiation of rent

To encourage Landlords to negotiate with the Tenants, the government is offering a brand new subsidy grant of $1,500 for landlords who offer rent reductions. The grant covers either the rent reduction passed onto the tenant, or the cap of $1,500, whichever is lower.

However, a landlord can claim either the grant or the Covid-19 land tax benefit, but not both.

 

What can I do if I am affected by Covid-19?

The first thing to do is to reach out to your landlord or agent to negotiate regarding the rental agreement, either for a waiver or reduction of rent, as well as any repayment schedule.

You must also keep all evidence that you meet the eligibility requirements of suffering a financial impact due to COVID-19.

Lastly, it is important to put any variations to the rental agreement in writing!!!

At Sun Lawyers, we can assist you with any negotiations regarding your rental agreement with the other party, as well as putting any variations in writing to prevent future disputes.

In this difficult time, it is important for both parties to be understanding and negotiate in good faith to come to a mutually beneficial arrangement. If you believe that you are a Covid-19 impacted tenant or landlord, please do not hesitate to contact us at any time at 02 9267 4988 or Vincent.hui@sunlaws.com regarding your residential tenancy.