Elise Archer, Attorney-General and Minister for Building and Construction
The Tasmanian Government remains committed to assisting Tasmanians affected by COVID-19 and we have taken considerable, significant measures to do this.
For tenants, this has included preventing evictions due to rent in arrears and preventing rent increases.
In addition, last week I announced the establishment of the COVID-19 Rent Relief Fund for those tenants suffering from extreme financial hardship.
The Rental Relief payment is a one-off payment made directly to the landlord after they have entered into an approved temporary rent reduction arrangement with their tenant.
Landlords are strongly encouraged to negotiate in good faith regarding rental reductions for those tenants seeking assistance through the Rental Relief Fund.
However, if eligible tenants are unable to gain agreement from their landlord, they should contact the Office of the Residential Tenancy Commissioner who will work with both parties to assist in agreement being reached. In the event that an agreement cannot be reached with the landlord, there is flexibility to make the payment directly to the tenant. The Commissioner is yet to receive any enquiries in this regard.
This is the way similar rent relief schemes are being operated in other states, including Victoria and Western Australia.
It is a simple process which will provide much relief for those tenants still experiencing extreme hardship and particularly for those landlords reliant on this income as their only source of income.
I am pleased to report that more than 23 tenants have applied, with more than 100 inquiries received, for the COVID-19 Rent Relief Fund since it was announced and we will continue to provide support to all Tasmanians experiencing hardship as a result of this pandemic.
Importantly, the Tasmanian Government has not capped the Rent Relief Fund for those eligible.*
- Assistance will be capped at four weeks rent, to a maximum of $2000 (whichever is the less).
- Assistance will be made available to tenants experiencing COVID-19 related hardship and are in rental stress, that is, they are paying more than 30% of their income in rent.
- Assistance will be available to people with less than $5000 in savings.
- As well as tenants covered by the Residential Tenancy Act 1997, those tenants who rent rooms, are part of a share-house or are sub-tenants are eligible for assistance.
- The Fund will made available to migrants and temporary visa holders subject to them meeting all other eligibility criteria.
- There is a rent reduction agreement in place for a set period.