NSW announces $440 million coronavirus rent relief package

Under the changes, residential landlords and tenants will be required to negotiate rental payments in good faith in cases where a household has lost at least 25 per cent of its income due to the coronavirus.

Residential housing in Sydney's inner east.

Residential housing in Sydney's inner east. Source: AAP

NSW commercial and residential tenants significantly impacted by COVID-19 will have greater protection from eviction as the state government puts $440 million towards rent relief in the form of land tax waivers or rebates.

The government's six-month support package will include a moratorium on applications for forced residential evictions due to rental arrears for households financially disadvantaged by the pandemic.


Residential landlords and tenants will be required to negotiate rental payments in good faith in circumstances where a household has lost at least 25 per cent of its income because of the coronavirus.

"The reality is the more that a landlord looks after their tenant, and the more that a tenant works with their landlord, the better off that both will be as we move through this pandemic," said NSW Treasurer Dom Perrottet.

Money allocated for mediators, tenants union

Eligible tenants will be protected from eviction until the National Civil and Administrative Tribunal is satisfied negotiations have concluded, with any unpaid rent to accrue as arrears in that time.

Up to $10 million will be made available to employ mediators to assist landlords and tenants reach an outcome, if they cannot settle between themselves.

"It is about negotiation, mediation and arbitration," NSW Better Regulation Minister Kevin Anderson said.

Another $2.3 million will be allocated to the Tenants' Union of New South Wales to help them answer questions from tenants.

What we want to do is let tenants know that they are supported. Also for landlords too, they don't want to lose their tenants, as well as tenants who want to stay where they are, where they can.

"We know many people are worried about meeting their financial commitments at the moment," Minister Anderson said.

"That is why we need for stability for tenants and landlords while the new Commonwealth income support payments are rolled out, and landlords talk to their bank about mortgage relief."

Under the government's $440 million package, residential landlords will be eligible for a land tax waiver or rebate of up to 25 per cent if they pass the saving on to tenants in financial distress.

No blacklisting over rent arrears

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said it was also important that eligible tenants would not be blacklisted for the accrual of rent arrears.

Measures relating to commercial leases, meanwhile, will apply when businesses with a turnover of less than $50 million suffer a revenue drop of at least 30 per cent because of the pandemic.

Commercial landlords will have to negotiate rent relief agreements with such tenants by applying principles in a code of conduct previously announced by the prime minister.

The state government says it will introduce temporary legislation as soon as possible to give effect to the code, which says landlords can't terminate a lease for non-payment of rent and must offer tenants rent relief proportionate to their loss of turnover.

Under the state's land tax relief measures, commercial landlords will be offered a concession of up to 25 per cent of their 2020 land tax liability for relevant properties if they pass the savings on through a rent reduction.

Those who claim the concession will also be offered further land tax deferral for any outstanding amounts for a three-month period.

Mr Perrottet said it was important that both landlords and tenants understood the changes only applied to businesses significantly impacted by COVID-19.

"If your circumstances have not significantly changed you need to fulfil the terms of your existing agreement," he said in a statement on Monday. 

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others and gatherings are limited to two people unless you are with your family or household.

If you believe you may have contracted the virus, call your doctor (don’t visit) or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. If you are struggling to breathe or experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.

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4 min read
Published 13 April 2020 at 6:26am