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.

 

CESSATION OF ALL PAPER CERTIFICATES OF TITLE IN NSW – what does it mean and how does it affect you?

 

The NSW Registrar General has announced that commencing 11 October 2021 ALL paper Certificate of Title (CT) will be cancelled and no longer have legal effect. This announcement was part of the change to 100% electronic lodgement of Land transactions, and all Certificates of Titles will be electronic to facilitate this process.

 

How does this change affect purchasers and landowners of property after 11 October 2021?

  1. No CTs will be received on the purchase of a property without a mortgage;
  2. New subdivisions of existing property will no longer receive a CT;
  3. CTs held by existing Landowners will automatically be ineffective;
  4. Information Notices will be introduced to provide details of the dealings on the Title.

 

What are the benefits of electronic CTs?

  1. CTs will no longer be misplaced, lost or destroyed;
  2. Access of information – all information is accessible online and the control of the CT can be easily traced to the controlling party; and
  3. Increased security against fraudulent transactions.

Many states and territories have also been moving towards electronic CTs which can be referenced quickly in the table below:

Further details will be revealed by the NSW government in late July to August, and we will provide an update once the information is available.

If you have any queries regarding property transaction or Certificates of Title, please do not hesitate to contact us at any time at 02 9267 4988 or Vincent.hui@sunlaws.com

Single parents can buy property with as little as 2% of the purchase price!- FAMILY HOME GUARANTEE UPDATE

The new federal Family Home Guarantee announced by the Australian government provides single parents with dependents with the ability to purchase a family home with a deposit as little as 2% of the purchase price! We have summarised the important points of the Guarantee in this article for your reference.

 

From 1 July 2021, the Australian Government will provide 10,000 Family Home Guarantees over 4 financial years to help single parents purchase the following eligible properties:

  • Existing house, townhouse or apartment;
  • House and land package;
  • Land and separate contract for building a home; and
  • Off the plan apartment or townhouse.

 

 

The applicant must meet all the following criteria to obtain the Guarantee:

  • Australian Citizen above 18 years of age – Permanent residents are not eligible;
  • Single parent with at least one dependent child (meaning that the applicant is legally responsible for the day-to-day care, welfare and development of the child);
  • Taxable income less than $125,000 per annum;
  • Must be the only person on the loan and purchasing the property;
  • Be the owner-occupier of the purchased property;
  • Must not currently own any property; and
  • Purchased property price must not exceed the thresholds for each state and territory:

 

However, applicants must be aware that purchasing a property with a 2% deposit will lead to a higher loan amount, meaning there are higher interest and principal repayments. If you want to apply for the Guarantee, it is recommended for you to seek financial and legal advice to ensure you fully understand the implications and have the financial capabilities to afford the repayments.

Single parents face a huge challenge to both support their family while also saving up for a family home, especially with the current increasing property prices. Through the Family Home Guarantee and the proposed duty reform (details of duty reform), the Australian Government has shown their commitment to helping these vulnerable people and maintaining affordability of property in Australia for owner occupiers. If you are eligible for the Family Home Guarantee, you may also obtain other benefits and concessions such as the First Home Owner Grant or Stamp Duty concessions.

If you would like to enquire about your eligibilty for any grants or benefits to purchase property, please do not hesitate to contact us at any time at 02 9267 4988 or vincent.hui@sunlaws.com.

$25,000 FIRST HOME OWNER GRANT TO REPLACE STAMP DUTY CONCESSIONS – Update to proposed reform to Stamp Duty in NSW

The NSW government in June 2021 announced further updates to the much anticipated reform of stamp duty and land tax in NSW, revealing new insight on how the reform might operate after it is enacted.

 

Currently, all purchasers of property need to pay stamp duty on the purchase of property, and annual land tax based on their current landholding. The NSW government is proposing to replace stamp duty and land tax with an annual property tax calculated on each property in the reform.

The proposed reform gives all purchasers of property the choice between the following:

  • Pay Stamp Duty on their purchase, and land tax on their property; or
  • Pay the annual property tax for the property.

 

Once a property is subject to the annual property tax, all future purchasers will need to pay the annual property tax. The option to choose will also eventually be removed and all properties will have to pay the annual property tax.

In light of the proposed reform, many first home purchasers will be wondering what benefits they will be receiving as stamp duty concessions will no longer be valid. The NSW government has devised a replacement of the first home owner stamp duty concessions with a First Home Owner Grant of $25,000. This Grant amount is approximately the stamp duty for property value of $650,000, which is currently $24,585. Based on the current scheme, first home buyers obtain more savings from the stamp duty concession when they purchase property with a higher value than $650,000. However, after the First Home Buyer stamp duty concession reverts to the cap of $650,000 on 31 July 2021, first home buyers actually receive more benefits as regardless of the property price they purchase, they can still receive the full $25,000 grant.

 

 

The combined advantage of no longer have to pay stamp duty while obtaining $25,000 from the Grant helps first home buyers to purchase their first homes with less money than what is required before.

The proposed reform shows the NSW government’s commitment to helping home owners purchase property by removing the huge upfront barrier of stamp duty. Furthermore, the annual property rates of tax for home owners are much lower than investment properties and it was calculated to take around 18 years for an owner occupier’s property tax to exceed the corresponding stamp duty! With additional consultations on the way, we look forward to seeing further changes implemented by the reform to further make property in Australia more affordable.

A further update will be provided once the details have been confirmed for you to keep up to date with the latest laws. If you have any questions regarding the above, please do not hesitate to contact us at any time at 02 9267 4988 or Vincent.hui@sunlaws.com. Thank you!

SEPARATED BUT NOT DIVORCED – CAN I OBTAIN FIRST HOME BUYER BENEFITS?

The First Home Buyer benefits are a once in a lifetime opportunity for all Australians. Every Australian and residents are able to obtain on their first purchase in NSW a grant of $10,000.00 and a concession on stamp duty, providing huge savings to enable young Australians to fulfill their dreams of owning a property.

 

However, sometimes due to the circumstances, certain individuals are unable to obtain their first home benefits.

 

One such client, Clare, approached us to purchase a property under her own name. She had been separated from

her husband for a year, but the divorce application has yet to be lodged. She had found the perfect apartment of her dreams to start over fresh from her relationship. However, as her husband had previously bought property in Australia, she was unable to obtain First Home Buyer concession on stamp duty.

 

Based on her situation, we drafted a concise and detailed submission to Revenue NSW, and we were able to obtain a full refund of the stamp duty to Clare successfully.

 

Whenever you have a situation when you are unable to obtain a benefit due to your circumstances, it is always recommended for you to contact and explain your situation to a solicitor. You can always contact us at Sun Lawyers to review your situation and advise if we could make a submission on your behalf. Our lawyers are experienced in drafting letters to sympathetically describe your situation while making strong arguments to help you obtain the benefits you deserve.

If you have any further queries regarding obtaining further benefits, do not hesitate to contact us at Vincent.hui@sunlaws.com or 02 9267 4988.

 

TAX DISPUTES DURING COVID – IS IT A LOST CAUSE?

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit Australia in 2019, many people were not prepared and was hit with unexpected fines or penalties by the governmental taxation agencies. With the closure of borders, foreigners were unable to re-enter the country due to no fault on their own. However, they would still be hit with fines or penalties for contravening taxation laws.

 

One such case can be explored below:

A client, Cindy, has previously purchased a property in Sydney with approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board, and lived in the property in accordance with the terms of the FIRB approval.

However, due to the border closure, Cindy was unable to return to Sydney and her property was vacated for a year. Cindy was now liable for a vacancy fee up of $11,500.00.

After contacting us, our experienced lawyers used the relevant laws to devise a suitable strategy for Cindy’s situation. We were able to apply for an exemption of the vacancy fee under the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Regulation 2015. By writing a submission to the Australian Taxation Office detailing the situation and a comprehensive defence of our client’s position using the regulations, we fought for an exemption for our client from the Australian Taxation Office regarding the vacancy fee.

 

Disputes with the Governmental Departments

When faced with a notice or requisition from governmental departments such as the revenue or taxation office, many people choose not to contest the issue and pay the fine or penalty.

 

However, you could always contact us to review the requisition or notice, and we will be able to assess if there was a possibility to overturn the decision in your circumstances. Our lawyers are experienced in drafting letters to sympathetically describe your situation, and make a sound argument for why the decision should be overturned.

 

 

If you have any further queries regarding disputes with the taxation or revenue office, do not hesitate to contact us at Vincent.hui@sunlaws.com or 02 9267 4988.

THE LATEST BUDGET ANNOUNCEMENT – VICTORIANS FACE SPIKE IN LAND TAX AND STAMP DUTY BEGINNING 1 JANUARY 2022

 

The Victoria pre-budget announcement came hot on the heels of the Federal Budget announcement, introducing several updates that would affect landholdings in Victoria.

The budget announcements reveal the following changes which will begin on 1 January 2022:

 

  • Land Tax

The Land Tax rate for taxable landholdings exceeding $1.8 million will increase by 0.25%, and the rate for taxable landholdings exceeding $3 million will increase by 0.30%.

 

  • Stamp Duty

Premium Stamp Duty rates for property transactions with a value above $2 million has been increased to $110,000 plus 6.5 per cent of the dutiable value in excess of $2 million.

 

  • Windfall Gains Tax

Windfall Gains Tax of up to 50% for windfalls above $500,000 will be taxed for Developers and speculators.

 

Impact of the changes

The biggest impact of the changes would be on developers and investors of property, as they would be charged more tax on acquiring or holding onto property with a high value. Treasurer Tim Pallas emphasises that everyone needs to pay their fair share to support Victoria’s economic recovery, and the budget aimed to make those who has the capacity and making substantial profits to contribute more to society.

The increases in taxes will ultimately raise an estimated $380 million each year to be reinvested into the community, giving schools, hospitals and other community services the support they need.

Although these changes which may slow down property development and divert investments away from Victoria in the recovering Covid-19 economy, the Government is showing their confidence that Victoria is still a highly attractive investment destination even with the increases in taxes.

The changes do not affect residential land and the government is still supportive of local owner occupiers will not be affected by the increases. However, Local Victorians with substantial current landholdings need to be aware if the added taxes will be applicable to them.

 

  • If you have any queries regarding property in Victoria, please do not hesitate to contact us at any time at Vincent.hui@sunlaws.com and 02 9267 4988.