On 11 November 2021, the same day that the freeze on evictions in NSW ended, the NSW Government introduced a support package to help both residential tenants and landlords get back on their feet after experiencing financial hardship related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This package is set up to provide support for those eligible renters in NSW who have a reduction in work and income as a result of the pandemic.
Since 14 July 2021, landlords of residential tenancies have been able to initiate applications for support payments of up to $4,500.00 in situations where they rent property to a “COVID-19 impacted tenant”. This payment was previously only available upon application from a landlord or their agent, and was not available to be made by tenants. An affected tenant would therefore have no rights to make the application if their landlord was not willing to do so. Especially noting that the freeze on evictions (which prevented a landlord from evicting a COVID-19 affected tenant) was scheduled to come to an end, this created an inherent uncertainty for those affected tenants who would otherwise be unable to apply for this support.
From 11 November however, to alleviate this concern, the NSW Government announced that residential tenants are now able to apply for a rental support payment of up to $4,500.00 in situations where a tenant (or a member of their household who contributes to the payment of the rent) have had their weekly household income reduced by 25% or more and where their landlord has not previously applied for the rental support package.
To access this support package, an applicant must provide the following information:
- proof of tenancy (i.e. a signed residential tenancy agreement and/or rental bond number);
- evidence that a “rent paying member of the household” has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic such that they have experienced at least a 25% reduction in weekly household income since 14 July 2021 (compared to the 4 weeks before 26 June 2021) linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The support package is structured such that the tenant listed on the tenancy agreement does not need to be affected personally, but allows for an application to be made where a “rent paying member of the household” has been affected. For example, if an adult child contributes to rental payments of the parents and has lost income relating to the pandemic, the payment may still be accessible to the entire household.
Evidence to satisfy Fair Trading may include (but is not limited to) payslips, bank statements, documentation from an employer, evidence of business closure, Centrelink documentation or medical certificates.
- consent of the landlord/agent to provide their personal rent account details to Revenue NSW.
Tenants should be aware however that the support payment is not a cash payment made directly to the tenant, however will be paid to the landlord (or their agent) as a credit against any rent payable by the tenant.
All claims for the extended support payment close on 31 December 2021 and therefore tenants or their landlords should act sooner rather than later to take advantage of the financial incentive.
If you are a tenant, landlord or agent and want to obtain further information about this package, or provisions relating to tenancies and COVID-19 relief generally, contact our experienced Property Department 02 4626 5077 to discuss or visit https://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/resource-library/publications/coronavirus-covid-19/property/moratorium#eligibletenants for more information.
The contents of this publication are for reference purposes only. This publication does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Specific legal advice should always be sought separately before taking any action based on this publication.