- Grant funding to be re-purposed to pay 75 per cent of rent arrears to landlords
- Assistance to prevent evictions at the end of the COVID-19 emergency period
- To qualify, landlords must offer existing tenants a minimum six month agreement
The McGowan Government will expand the Residential Rent Relief Grant Scheme to assist tenants facing financial hardship due to COVID-19 to pay their rent debt when the eviction and rent increase moratorium ends.
The move is aimed at providing an incentive for landlords to maintain existing tenancies and prevent evictions when the moratorium ends on March 28, 2021. It's estimated that 3,750 to 4,000 tenancies will be preserved by providing this extra financial assistance.
So far more than 5,700 tenants who applied for the existing grant have been provided financial assistance amounting to $8 million of the allocated $30 million.
The unspent funds remaining in the existing grant scheme will be re-purposed to provide landlords with direct one-off payments equivalent to 75 per cent of the accrued rent arrears incurred during the emergency period, up to a maximum of $4,000. This will include any rent that was waived or deferred during the emergency period.
A key condition of landlords receiving the funding is that a fixed-term tenancy agreement of six months or longer is entered into with the existing tenant at a reasonable rent that is affordable.
Tenants will be able to apply for the new grants scheme if they satisfy the following criteria:
- Lost their job or 50 per cent of their income due to COVID-19 or were in receipt of a Centrelink payment (excluding JobKeeper), on or after 20 March 2020;
- Have less than $10,000 in savings;
- Pay more than 25 per cent of their income in rent per week;
- Are tenants or sub-tenants in a private residential property, rooming house or residential park;
- Have a tenancy agreement in place as at December 1, 2020;
- The debt was incurred before December 1, 2020; and
- Have a bond lodged with the Bond Administrator.
Applications for the existing grant scheme will close on December 31, 2020. Tenants can apply and get further details at http://www.dmirs.wa.gov.au/covidrentgrant. Applications for the new grant scheme will open on January 4, 2021 and close on June 28, 2021.
Comments attributed to Commerce Minister John Quigley:
"The expanded grant scheme will be welcome news for many tenants and landlords who have been doing it tough due to the economic fall-out of COVID-19 and are worried about what will happen when the moratorium on evictions comes to an end.
"The new grants will help tenants clear a large proportion of their rent debt and put them, along with the landlord, in a better position to negotiate an extension of their tenancy, helping them stay in their home until they can get back on their feet financially.
"Many landlords have also been suffering financially, having to accept reduced or deferred rent arrangements during this challenging time, so the extra assistance is designed to offset the deficit in their income."
Comments attributed to Treasurer Ben Wyatt:
"The McGowan Government is committed to its investment in COVID relief measures.
"While the need for the original rent assistance scheme wasn't as large as expected, it's now provided an opportunity to re-direct the remainder of the $30 million allocation to prevent some evictions when the emergency period ends on March 28 next year.
"I hope that the re-purposing of the funds will result in tenants at financial risk staying in their rental homes longer, giving them more time to find employment and for their incomes to recover."
Commerce Minister's office - 6552 6800
Treasurer's office - 6552 5900