Will you get evicted if you miss your rent payment?

Evictions have been banned in New York and LA, while France suspended all utility bills and rent payments. In Australia landlords are being urged to show leniency to tenants who cannot afford to pay their rent, with calls to ban evictions to protect tenants and the wider public.

On the 29th March the States and Territories agreed to a 6 month moratorium on some evictions for commercial and residential tenants in financial distress. However, many states are still working out the finer details and implementing this change. 

New South Wales
The NSW Government announced a six month moratorium on residential evictions. This applies to households that have lost at least 25% of their income. 

If you qualify, your landlord is required to negotiate your rental payments in good faith, however, any unpaid rent on the newly agreed amount will accrue in arrears. This means that when the moratorium finishes, landlords can proceed with an eviction if they are in financial hardship, but as a tenant you will not be blacklisted. 

Victoria

The Victorian Government has recently announced rent relief grants for Victorians experiencing rental hardship as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. The package provides a one off grant to help renters maintain safe, secure and stable accommodation.

The rental assistance provides rent relief payments of up to $2,000 to Victorians experiencing rental hardship. The grant is paid directly to the tenant’s agent, lessor or landlord to contribute to the tenant’s rental payments.

For more information visit https://www.housing.vic.gov.au/help-renting/rentrelief.

It is recommended that tenants in financial stress also contact their landlords as soon as possible to arrange a plan. If you are served with an eviction notice, contact the Victoria Consumer Affairs Tribunal. You can remain in your home until the hearing if you choose. 

Queensland

The Queensland Government has placed a six-month moratorium on evictions for renters experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Renters and landlords are required to come together to negotiate an interim plan. If you cannot settle on an agreement, you will need to go to the Residential Tenancies Authority for mediation.

Renters are required to provide full disclosure of the financial circumstances through a conciliation process. You will need to prove that you've lost more than 25% of your income, or that you've lost so much of your income that you're paying more than 30% of your income on rent and can't afford the other necessities of life. 

If you negotiate a reduced rental payment, you will no longer be liable for the original amount, so will not have to repay the difference. 

South Australia

The South Australian government has announced a moratorium on rental evictions for tenants who have lost employment or income due to COVID-19.

If you and your landlord cannot reach an agreement, the landlord is entitled to apply to the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to order your eviction. 

The government has not clarified whether unpaid rent will have to be repaid after the pandemic. Renters are warned to assume it will have to be repaid.

Western Australia

The Western Australian Government is still in the process of amending the tenancy laws to enact the moratorium on evictions.

In the meantime, tenants should continue to pay whatever rent they can. They have encouraged renters and landlords to discuss alternative payment plans until the moratorium on evictions is formally enacted. 

Tasmania

The Tasmanian Government introduced a 120-day emergency period into its Residential Tenancy Act until 25 July (extendable by 90-day increments if necessary). 

During that 120-day emergency period, tenants cannot be evicted for falling into rental arrears, however, landlords can issue a notice to vacate on the grounds of rent arrears when the period ends. 

Leases can still be terminated during the emergency period if tenants agree or if the tenant or landlord make a successful hardship application.

ACT and Northern Territory
Neither the ACT or the Northern Territory have enacted the moratorium.

When further updates are available we will update this article.

Negotiating with your landlord

Remember, we are all in this together. Landlords may also be experiencing financial hardship. When you attempt to negotiate with your landlord to pay a reduced amount or no rent for a short period, consider their position. 

It might be in the landlord's best interest to reach an agreement with you. It is much more difficult and expensive to replace you than show some leniency. Some landlords will be more willing to do this, especially if their mortgage costs are not excessive. 

For other landlords, reducing your rent will require their bank to reduce or delay mortgage repayments. This process can take time and cause anxiety for property owners. Try to keep the dialogue open and constructive.

Will COVID-19 impact rental prices?

It’s impossible to tell what the future holds for Australia’s property market, but . But realestate.com.au believe the rental market will be hit first.

The major influence on rent is increased unemployment, particularly amongst younger Australians. As job losses mount, search activity from renters is down while the number of rental listings is rising. 

More renters are moving to share accommodation or moving to live with their family during the crisis. While rental prices haven't moved yet, according to realestate.com.au it’s likely prices will fall.

How to track rental prices

To track rental prices in your area, download the Rollit Wealth App and add your home address in the property and lending section. Be sure to select "I rent this property" in the drop down menu!

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