Eviction moratorium

If you can’t pay rent because of COVID-19, your landlord can’t evict you – but don’t expect free rent.

In September 2020, the six-month moratorium on evictions for residential tenants unable to meet rental payments due to COVID-19 came to an end in Queensland. However, the moratorium is ongoing in most other states and territories.

The moratorium is a public health measure to minimise social movement during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What’s important to remember is that the current moratorium is on evictions – not on free rent.

After the March national Cabinet meeting, PM Scott Morrison said: “State and territories will be moving to put a moratorium on evictions of persons as a result of financial distress if they are unable to meet their commitments. There’ll be a moratorium on evictions for the next six months under those rental arrangements.”

Each state and territory has dealt with the moratorium differently:

State/TerritoryMoratorium statusNotes
New South WalesEnds 26 March 2021The NSW Government has extended the COVID-19 rental moratorium measures to 26 March 2021. These restrictions were initially due to end on 15 October 2020. Along with the restrictions on evictions for rental arrears, the Government has also extended the notice periods for certain other lease termination reasons to 90 days.
VictoriaEnds 28 March 2021Renting laws in VIC have temporarily changed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Victoria’s rental eviction moratorium has been extended to 28 March 2021. The previous moratorium for Victorian tenants was set to expire on 31 December 2020.
QueenslandEnded 29 September 2020The eviction moratorium in QLD ended at midnight on 29 September 2020. Tenants who are still in dispute about a rent reduction due to COVID excessive hardship, or are yet to request one, should ensure they’ve notified their lessor, agent or provider in writing.
Western AustraliaEnds 28 March 2021WA announced an extension to the moratorium on rent increases and other provisions until 28 March 2021.
South AustraliaEnds 28 March 2021In South Australia, the eviction moratorium ends on 28 March 2021. Tenants and landlords were asked to sit down and come to an agreement if COVID-19 had financially impacted the tenant. However, the tenant is required to pay back their rent once the moratorium has expired.
TasmaniaEnds 31 January 2021Tasmania has indicated that it will be extending protections for residential tenants still suffering from the effects of COVID-19 until 31 January 2021. It’s the third time that the support measure has been extended.
Northern TerritoryNo moratorium on evictionsThe NT Government walked away from the moratorium on evictions back in April. In the NT, the negotiation period between COVID-19-affected tenants and landlords on rent was been extended from 14 days to 60 days. The notice period for eviction was also increased from 14 days to 60 days, which gives tenants protection for up to 120 days.
Australian Capital TerritoryEnds 31 January 2021The ACT Government has announced an extension to its eviction moratorium for renters to 31 January 2021. The six-month moratorium was expected to expire on 22 October 2020, but affected tenants in the ACT now have a further three months to pay their rental arrears.

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Moratorium: A legally authorised period of delay in the performance of a legal authority, or payment of a debt

Does that mean I can not pay the rent and still have a place to live?

The thing about a moratorium is that it runs out, and as soon as it does, anyone behind on rent might still have to pay up – unless they’ve already worked something out with their landlord.

As the COVID-19 situation continues to unfold, we will likely see continued government rules and regulations impacting residential tenancy agreements nationwide.

You must review your lease and Residential Tenancy Agreement to understand your specific rights and obligations better. Be proactive and engage with your landlord/agent sooner than later, rather than waiting until you can’t pay the rent.

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