Victoria’s rental eviction moratorium has been extended to 2021.
The extension comes as Victoria grapples with 19,450 active COVID-19 cases and a major economic shutdown. Both residential and commercial tenants will be protected until 28 March 2021.
The previous moratorium for Victorian tenants was set to expire on 31 December 2020.
Landlords will also be able to apply for cash payments, under the latest suite of measures announced by the Victorian Government.
The announcement in brief:
In short, the measures announced on Friday, September 4 mean:
- The temporary ban on evictions and rental increases for Victorian tenants has been extended to 28 March 2021.
- As per the August announcement, eligible renters will also be able to apply for relief of up to $3,000 – an increase from $2,000, while the asset threshold test for support has doubled to $10,000 in assets.
- Landlords who provide rent relief to tenants impacted by COVID-19 will be eligible for 2021 and 2020 land tax relief.
VIC boosts support for landlords, tenants
At a briefing in August, Treasurer Tim Pallas said close to 26,000 agreements for reduced rent have been registered with Consumer Affairs Victoria.
The latest change means the size of rent relief payments for tenants in rental distress will increase from $2,000 to $3,000 for new applicants. Previous recipients can get up to an extra $1,000.
Mr Pallas also flagged some further land tax relief for landlords above the previously announced 25% reduction for landlords who give their tenants a rental discount.
Residential and commercial landlords who provide outright rent waivers of at least 50% of rent payable for at least three months will now be eligible for an extra 25% land tax relief.
“Nobody should be worried about losing a roof over their head right now particularly given the circumstances around social distancing, but also the associated economic consequences of the pandemic,” Mr Pallas said.
“Everyone in these difficult times needs to pull together.”
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Advocacy groups like Tenants Victoria and the Victorian Council of Social Service will also benefit from a $600,000 payment to assist tenants with understanding their rights, and for help during the mediation process.
Tenants Victoria CEO Jennifer Beveridge said the group welcomed the extension of COVID-19 rental protections, including continuing bans on evictions and rental increases.
“Our homes have become our safe havens amid the restrictions imposed by pandemic public health orders,” she said. “Victoria’s renters will breathe a sigh of collective relief that they will continue to be protected from evictions if they fall behind on rent. For thousands of renters, this is the first time they have faced such hardship.”
Ms Beveridge said Victoria had legislated a strong framework for tenants and landlords to come to fair and reasonable agreements for rental reductions, however it was clear more people needed to take advantage of the opportunity to seek rent reduction through mediation if they could not agree with the real estate agent and the landlord.
“We are embarking on a program of community education to help more renters access the available supports. Our key message to the state’s renters affected financially by the pandemic is to go for a rent reduction now.”
The extension for Victoria follows an initial $500 million state government assistance package announced back in April, designed to provide rent assistance to tenants in distress and land tax reductions for landlords who gave discounts.
Real Estate Institute of Victoria (REIV) president Leah Calnan said the ban extension was “not unexpected” and welcomed the expansion of the payment to landlords.
She said the government would need to provide clarity about what was to be done about already pending eviction requests which are working their way through the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
Ms Calnan said the REIV would now lobby for further postponement of the Rent Fair Residential Tenancy Act amendments until July 2021.