The global COVID-19 pandemic has caused huge economic impacts on many Australians, and many are facing trouble meeting their financial obligations. In response, the Federal government has previously announced a moratorium on evictions to provide temporary protections for tenants. Last week, the NSW Government introduced amendments in form of the Residential Tenancies Amendments (COVID-19) Regulation 2020 (the Amendments) that aims to help residential tenants who are a member of a household affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The amendments include:
- 6 months moratorium period on evictions due to rental arrears;
- 60-day stop on terminations;
- 90-day notice period requirement on other terminations; and
- Prohibition of black-listing tenants.
Ban on termination
The moratorium puts a 6-month ban on evictions, including a 60-days stop from its commencement day on new termination notices and terminations due to rent arrears, provided the tenants is a member of a household financially affected by COVID-19.
COVID-19 Income Test
The Amendments provide that a household is impacted if one or more rent-paying members has suffered the following as a result COVID-19:
- Lost employment or income; or
- Reduction in work hours or income; or
- Had to stop working or materially reduced hours due to COVID-19, or carer responsibilities for another member with COVID-19.
As a result, the weekly household income has been reduced by at least 25% as calculated by the total weekly income after tax including government payments of each rent-paying member.
Tenants are to provide documentary proof showing:
- Job termination or loss of work hours
- Government income support, or
- Prior income after tax.
If you are unable to prove that you have been financially affected, you will not be eligible to the moratorium and you may still be terminated for rental arrears.
Landlords may still terminate within the moratorium period if three conditions are fulfilled:
- The termination notice or application is made at least 60 days after the commencement of the Amendments,
- The landlord has participated in formal negotiations in good faith with the tenant, and
- it is fair and reasonable in the circumstances to terminate.
In dealing with an application by a landlord or impacted tenant regarding termination, the Tribunal may have regard to:
- any advice by NSW Fair Trading relating to the rent negotiations process;
- whether the tenant continued to make payments;
- nature of financial hardship and general financial position;
- availability and affordability of reasonable alternative accommodation for the impacted tenant;
- any special vulnerability of the tenant; and
- public health objectives of citizens remaining at home and preventing avoidable movement.
The NSW Government has provided two flowcharts as a good summary for tenancy rights under the Amendments.
The Federal and NSW government has emphasized on the importance in having honest communications and negotiations in good faith between landlords and tenants. Both parties should keep an open line of communication and try to reach a mutually beneficial outcome to help each other in these difficult times.
During negotiations, there are some important considerations such as:
- the amount of rent reduction
- the time period of rent reduction
- whether current rental arrears are waived or delayed
- future rent amount after the period of rent reduction
- by market review or the previous rental amount
- the financial situation of both parties
- any concessions the Landlord may be entitled to (etc. land tax reduction)
- any continuing obligation to provide proof of financial hardship
It is important to review the considerations above to protect your interests, and any concluded agreements must be put in writing for legal certainty. It is also recommended that you obtain legal advice before signing any rental agreements.
Our Professional Services
At Sun Lawyers, we provide professional services to help both tenants and landlords with any tenancy matters. Our property team are experienced in drafting and reviewing legal documents to protect your best interests in any agreements. We will attend to any negotiations, mediations or dispute resolution between tenants and landlords. If any dispute cannot be resolved, we can also help you bring the matter to court.
相信大家对于今年年初澳洲政府开始实施的这个5%首付贷款计划 (First Home Loan Deposit Scheme) 都不陌生，这对于想要买房的小伙伴们绝对是一个重大好利！但是，对于这个计划你又了解多少呢？下面我们就来介绍一些你一定必须要知道的细节。
举例来说，最近在布里斯本市中心一些非常火的楼盘吸引了很多买家的注意。有客人问”我看上了一套63万的房子，可以申请这个5%首付贷款计划吗?” 答案是不可以，因为政府对昆州首府城市 (Capital City)的房价要求是必须低于47万5千，超过这个价钱的房子就不符合5%首付贷款计划的要求了。
另外，值得注意的是类似Wollongong, New Castle, Geelong, Gold Coast之类的城市，虽然看上去是偏远地区，但是由于他们的人口数量都超过25万，因此，首府城市的房价要求也同样适用于它们。比如，如果你想在Wollongong买一套68万的房子，你就可以申请这个5%首付贷款计划。
The global pandemic COVID-19 has forced many businesses to halt or restrict their activities. causing serious social and economic repercussions worldwide. Due to these hardships, many tenants are struggling to pay rent under their leases, and Landlords are unable to receive rent as a source of income.
In response to the pandemic in Australia, the New South Wales Government has assented to the COVID-19 Legislation Amendment (Emergency Measures) Act 2020 (the Act) last week. The Act gives the Government a temporary power to make regulations for the purposes of responding to the public health emergency caused by the pandemic, expanding their authority to make regulations in the Retail Leases Act 1994 and Residential Tenancies Act 2010 for the following:
Prohibit the recovery of possession of premises by a lessor;
Prohibit the termination of a lease or tenancy in particular circumstances;
Preventing the exercise or enforcement of a right under the Act or agreement for property in particular circumstances; and
Exempting a lessee or tenant from operation of a provision of the Act, or agreement relating to leases or licensing of premises or land.
These regulations are to expire 6 months after they are made, giving the relevant authorities power to make emergency measures to counteract the effects of COVID-19 in the following circumstances upon recommendation of the Minister to the government:
Parliament is not sitting, and is unlike to sit within two weeks after the regulations are made.
in the Minister’s opinion, the regulations are reasonable to protect the health, safety and welfare of lessees under the Act.
What does this mean for Leases?
While the Act give the relevant authorities the power to make changes, the exact changes are still being discussed and no formal regulations has been made yet. However, the purpose of the act was to make regulations to ensure that people are not evicted into homelessness or accumulate insurmountable amounts of rental debts during this crisis, and provide relief for both residential and commercial tenants. We may expect governmental support for both businesses and individuals regarding leases in the near future.
As a point of reference, we can look to the measures taken by other countries to support their residents. France has suspended all bills and rent while major American cities such as New York and Los Angeles have banned evictions. Italy and the United Kingdoms have suspended mortgage repayments to provide support for struggling individuals.
Should similar measures be taken in Australia for leases, tenants may receive rent assistance or abatement, or eviction may be banned, to help Australians affected by the pandemic to tide through until the economy gets back on track. The government may also suspend mortgage repayments, which eases the Landlord’s financial pressure, in turn allowing them to give rent concessions to their tenants.
What can a tenant do if they are facing trouble now?
As a tenant, it is imperative for you to know your contractual rights and obligations under the lease, as certain clauses under the lease may prevent the landlord from evicting or punishing you for being unable to pay rent in these circumstances. Each lease has their own terms and conditions so you may need to seek independent legal advice to better understand your situation. You may also hold informal talks with your landlord to come to an agreement regarding the lease. Through negotiations, both parties can come to a mutually beneficial outcome with the lease continuing in the current economic environment.
While the situation may be tough now, there is hope on the horizon for both Landlords and Tenants. With the new amendments, the government is gearing up to introduce emergency measures to help Australians tide through these economic difficulties. Both tenants and landlords need to stay updated regarding the law due to the rapidly changing regulations in response to COVID-19, and we will be publishing an analysis of the emergency regulations once they are enacted.