COVID-19: Payment plans for renters announced
Measures to transition renters back to normality have been announced following a charity's concerns the end of an eviction moratorium was a "ticking time bomb".
In April 2020, the NSW Government introduced temporary measures to support landlords and tenants adversely impacted by the pandemic which included a moratorium on evictions and the opportunity to negotiate rent waivers and deferrals.
On Thursday NSW Better Regulation and Innovation Minister Kevin Anderson said changes will be made to those measures to allow the rental market to adjust to new circumstances.
Charities, including St Vincent De Paul were urging the Government to extend the measures citing concerns over the impact of backdated rents pushing people into debt and poverty.
While the temporary measures will still come to an end, Mr Anderson said he would introduce legislation "in the next fortnight" for a six month transition to protect people in rental arrears from being evicted.
"For six months from March 27, tenants and landlords will be supported to enter a repayment plan for any COVID-induced arrears and tenants can only be evicted if they fail to meet the terms of that plan," he said.
Mr Anderson added that in February 2021, Fair Trading reported an 85 per cent drop in requests for assistance and complaints relating to COVID-19 rent negotiations, compared to June last year.
Coffs Harbour MP Gurmesh Singh said a transition period instead of an immediate halt would ensure a fairer process for both landlords and tenants.
"As a government, we realised early on that protections for renters would be required. But we also recognise that there now needs to be a path back to normal life," he said.
"In my discussions with the real estate sector and my discussion with constituents, I am not aware of large scale take up of these provisions in the residential market in the Coffs Harbour electorate."
Proposed changes to come into effect from March 27:
- Current COVID-19 residential tenancy measures will be repealed.
-The NSW Government will introduce amendments to legislation to prevent tenants from being automatically evicted due to COVID-19 induced rental arrears.
- Landlords and tenants will be supported to draw up rental repayment plans that enable landlords to recoup COVID-induced arrears, while keeping tenants in their properties.
- COVID-19 impacted tenants will be protected from being black-listed on tenancy databases for arrears.