Are you renting a property in Victoria? If you’re suffering from financial hardship due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, there are laws in place to protect you.
The Victorian Government has implemented several laws that protect tenants from eviction and will allow you to negotiate a rent reduction with your landlord.
The current moratorium on evictions applies from 29 March 2020 to 28 March 2021 in Victoria. This means that you cannot be evicted if you are served a notice to vacate between 29 March 2020 and 28 March 2021 because you cannot pay your rent due to the impacts of COVID-19 on your financial situation.
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Who is protected by the eviction moratorium?
The current moratorium on evictions applies to you if you are a tenant or sub-tenant:
- in residential rental property;
- living in a rooming house;
- in social housing;
- under a site agreement or at a caravan park; or
- in specialist disability accommodation.
What is rental hardship?
Rental hardship is a situation where a tenant is paying more than 30% of their income in rent. They might also have limited personal savings and access to other benefits or support.
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How do rent increases work during the eviction moratorium?
Between 29 March 2020 and 28 March 2021, your landlord cannot increase your rent. They can choose to increase the rent after this period, but only within the terms of your existing lease agreement and the Residential Tenancies Act.
If your landlord issues you with a notice of rent increase after this time and you think that increase is not reasonable, you can apply to Consumer Affairs Victoria for an assessment.
How do I negotiate a rent reduction during COVID-19?
Have you contacted your property manager to negotiate a rent reduction? You should expect a timely reply and confirmation that they have put your request to the landlord.
You and your landlord should try to reach an agreement to reduce your rent rather than deferring payment. If you agree to postpone the payment, you will end up with debt. You may not be able to repay once the moratorium ends.
Has your landlord has asked you to defer? Are you unhappy about being asked to repay at a later date? You should begin the dispute resolution process.
If you aren’t happy with the response or feel it has taken too long, you can request help from Consumer Affairs Victoria. You don’t need an agreement or approval from your landlord to ask for help.