The current emergency period is 30 March 2020 to 29 September 2020, but may be revised to earlier or later dates, depending on the status of the COVID-19 pandemic.

What states have changed the emergency period?

Australian Capital Territory: The ACT decided to extend its tenant protections following a significant uptick in cases in NSW, which surrounds the capital. The measures available to ACT tenants and landlords affected by the COVID-19 crisis have been extended to 22 October 2020, in line with the ACT Government’s commitment to providing a six-month moratorium on rent arrears evictions for COVID-19 impacted tenants.

Victoria: The Victorian Government has announced an extension to the moratorium on evictions, rent relief for eligible tenants, suspension of rental increases, and a continued dispute resolution process. In VIC, the moratorium on evictions will apply until 28 March 2021.

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In the news

In Western Australia, an industry body has called for the emergency period tenancy legislation to expire as planned in September, following concerns the state might follow in the ACT’s footsteps and extend the measures.

The Real Estate Institute of Western Australia (REIWA) said the measures, which are due to expire on September 29, should not be extended because the WA economy was not doing poorly enough to warrant it.

REIWA president Damian Collins said only around 1% of residential tenancies had been unable to pay rent in WA, so it was appropriate to return to normal and prevent increased financial hardship on landlords, who may no longer be able to delay their mortgage payments and decide to sell.

Can’t afford to pay the rent because of COVID-19?

If you are struggling to make rental payments because of unemployment or lost income, here are some tips:

  • Know your tenant rights: Tenancy laws vary across Australia, so make sure you’re informed about the tenancy laws specific to your state or territory. Check your lease agreement for details covering what your landlord can and cannot do.
  • Talk to your landlord/property manager: If you’re struggling to make repayments, communicate this to your landlord. They may not be able to waive your rental payments, but they could negotiate a temporary rent reduction once they understand your situation.
  • Contact your tenancy support service: There are organisations in every state and territory across Australia that offer counselling and legal guidance to tenants. Get the contact details for your local services here.
  • Find out if you’re eligible for unemployment benefits: If you’ve lost your job, you may be eligible for a JobSeeker allowance or other payment. This payment was increased due to COVID-19. If you’re eligible, this could help you cover rent and bills.

Where can I go for further financial help?

  • It’s okay to feel overwhelmed. If you are in financial distress and need a bit more guidance or help quickly, call the National Debt Hotline on 1800 007 007 for free advice on how to manage your debts.
  • Remember that whatever financial and/or emotional stress you’re suffering, you’re not alone. Call Lifeline Australia on 13 11 44 if you need help.

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