THE announcement of a six month moratorium on evictions by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on March 29 has been a welcome relief for some tenants who have found themselves in financial hardship.
Although the plan is yet to be fully implemented by all states and territories as the details continue to be ironed out, leaving some vulnerable tenants open to legal proceedings.
If tenants do receive a notice of termination, it is recommended by the Tenants' Union not to move immediately as there are likely to be further announcements in the coming days regarding how the new moratorium will be implemented.
It has also been recommended that any tenant currently suffering financial hardship in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic should attempt to contact and negotiate with their landlords regarding rental payments. If a landlord is willing to discuss your future payments, there are several options you can work through to get the best outcome for all parties.
The first option would be to seek a deferral. This would see the payment of rent deferred for an agreed amount of time - as a tenant, this would leave you in debt but it would ensure the landlord is paid in due course via an agreed payment plan. Another option would be to discuss a rent waiver or reduction with the property owner.
In certain circumstances, a landlord may agree to waive the rent for an agreed period or they could agree to drastically reduce the rent.
Either way, it is best to be proactive when it comes to paying your rent on time if you can and, if not, speak to your landlord or agent as soon as possible to keep them abreast of your financial situation.
INSPECTIONS AND AUCTIONS
While all open house inspections and in-person auctions on properties for sale have been banned, agents are still able to currently provide one-on-one inspections by appointment and if the current tenant has been notified.
Agents have been asked to ensure the health and safety of everyone in attendance by asking them not to touch anything on the premises, providing access to face masks and hand sanitiser and maintaining social distancing rules.
Newly established social distancing requirements will challenge the way agents fulfill their obligations to clients and customers.
Tenants residing in public or community housing should not experience a rent increase due to accessing income support payments such as the Coronavirus Supplement, JobSeeker or other supplements made during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For more information about what is and is not assessable when it comes to income, contact your state housing department.
Under the current restrictions, travelling to accommodation or for the purpose of moving to a new home is considered a 'reasonable excuse' to leave your current accommodation and is not in breach of the current health orders.
Removalists are able to help you in transporting your belongings, however inviting friends or family members to help may be breaching the orders as it will be considered a group of more than two people. If possible, liaise with your landlord or agent to determine if you are able to extend your lease to avoid a move during the current restrictions.