Victorias freeze on evictions and rental hikes extended to December 31

Victorias freeze on evictions and rental hikes extended to December 31

The Victorian Government is extending eviction moratorium laws to provide greater certainty for both tenants and landlords.

Rental increases are also banned until the end of the year.

Victoria’s ban on rental hikes and evictions which had previously been set to expire on 29 September will be extended until 31 December.

Extension of these laws will ensure that Victorian renters facing hardship due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will not be evicted from their homes (with limited exceptions) or have their rent increased until 31 December 2020.

In addition to the eviction moratorium extension, further support being introduced for residential and commercial tenants and landlords includes:

  • changes to the land tax relief scheme and an increase of land tax discount from the current 25 per cent to 50 per cent for residential landlords who provide a 50 per cent rent reduction to eligible tenants
  • extension of the Rent Relief Grant program to 31 December 2020, increasing the maximum grant amount to $3,000 for new applications, and allowing previous recipients to receive up to an additional $1,000
  • extension of the Residential Tenancies Dispute Resolution Scheme until 31 December 2020.

Treasurer Tim Pallas explained:

“Landlords that provide outright rent waivers of at least 50 per cent of rent payable for at least three months will be eligible for an additional 25 per cent land tax relief,”

“A $60 million fund additionally will be established for eligible small commercial landlords, and that will provide up to $3,000 per tenancy.”

He also called on the banks to “do the right thing”.Tenancy Agriment

“To get through this together, all of us – tenants, landlords, businesses, governments, banks – we need to work together.

And certainly these arrangements – which seek to strike that right balance – are aimed at ensuring that where the right thing is done by a landlord for a tenant, where they comply with the eligible criteria, then they too can expect that the state will provide them with relief as well.”

Pallas noted that in the last four months, around 26,000 agreements for reduced rent have been registered with Consumer Affairs Victoria, while the Victorian Small Business Commissions also facilitated around 8,000 rent-related inquiries.

“Nobody should be worried about losing a roof over their head right now – particularly given the circumstances around social distancing but also, the associated economic consequences of the pandemic event that the entire world is confronting,” Pallas said.

“So we need to  provide certainty to people who lose their homes or their businesses, and we need to help tenants and landlords find some common ground.”

New rules for commercial landlordsTenant

With Victoria in Stage 4 lockdown and many businesses closed commercial landlords will need to offer rent relief in line with business’ turnover.

Previously, there were no defined rules and that relationship between rent reductions and falls in turnover was just something the government hoped landlords would do.

“But we will now make it a very clear and expressed intention that, if you’re identifying a downturn in your capacity, your turnover, then you should have an expectation that that is similarly  reflected in terms of the rent relief that you get,” Pallas said.

Here’s what’s happened so far

In the past four months, close to 26,000 agreements for reduced rent have been registered with Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV), with advice and dispute resolution services accessed more than 80,000 times.

Of these contacts, more than 90 per cent have found solutions through CAV’s ‘front door’ service, including more than 8,400 cases resolved through its Residential Tenancies Dispute Resolution Scheme.

These services will continue to remain in place, assisting more residential tenants and landlords who might be struggling to reach an agreement over rent reductions.

The Victorian Small Business Commission (VSBC) offers a similar service for commercial tenancies and has fielded more than 7,900 rent-related enquiries from small business owners and landlords.

Of the cases reaching mediation, more than 90 per cent have resulted in tenants and landlords reaching common ground.

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