SOURCE: Domain Report – 4 March 2021
Tenants living in fear of being kicked out of their homes after having their incomes slashed by COVID-19 job losses can breathe again after the NSW government signalled it will protect them beyond March 27.
The moratorium on evictions is due to end this month but now there’ll be a six-month transition scheme put into the legislation to make sure no one automatically loses their home before the end of September through rent arrears.
Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation Kevin Anderson told Domain the support and assistance to tenants and landlords across the state introduced as a result of the pandemic kept a roof over people’s heads.
“I will introduce legislation in the next fortnight to start a six-month transition from March 26, when the eviction moratorium and requirement for tenants and landlords to renegotiate rental payments will expire,” he said.
“We want to ensure tenants with covid-induced rental arrears are protected from being evicted so, from March 27, tenants and landlords will be supported to enter a repayment plan and tenants can only be evicted if they fail to meet the terms of that plan.
“Our No.1 priority has always been to keep people safe and in accommodation, and introducing a transition process instead of bringing this support to an abrupt halt is by far the most fair way to ensure this happens.”
On March 27, the current pandemic residential tenancy measures will be repealed as expected, but the amendments to the law will mean tenants won’t automatically be evicted because of rental arrears incurred during COVID-19.
Tenants will instead be allowed to stay in their properties if they comply with rental repayment plans drawn up by landlords along government guidelines. In addition, COVID-19-affected tenants will be protected from being blacklisted on tenancy databases for arrears.
Mr Anderson said last month there was an 85 per cent drop in requests for help and complaints relating to COVID-19 rent negotiations, compared with June 2020.
“With the economy rebounding and the unemployment rate stabilising, the time is right to transition back to normal tenancy laws,” he said.
But Shadow Minister for Consumer Protection Julia Finn said that, with some people now facing enormous rent arrears, the government should be adopting the more generous package of support measures discussed last year in Parliament.
“Just giving people more time to pay the arrears won’t help many tenants pay, and landlords will still be out of pocket,” she said. “Some people are already under enormous rental stress, paying more than 30 per cent of their income on rent, and even if they’re getting their old jobs back, they still won’t be able to pay all the extra.
“The government needs to go back and look again at the mechanisms proposed in the emergency legislation to provide people under financial distress with more financial support so they, and their landlords, aren’t further disadvantaged.”
To view the NSW Government Media Release – click here.