Greater protection for residential tenants during COVID-19 crisis

5 May 2020|Community News| Off Comments off on Greater protection for residential tenants during COVID-19 crisis|

DUE to COVID-19, many Tasmanians have found that their income has been severely reduced, placing enormous pressure on their ability to pay for usual living expenses such as rent.

The Tasmanian Government has issued a notice to prevent residential rental evictions until at least 30 June 2020.

The notice, issued under Section 22 of the COVID-19 Disease (Emergency Provisions) Act 2020 passed by both Houses of Parliament, came into effect on 3 April 2020.

Attorney-General and Minister for Building and Construction Elise Archer said it was important to note these changes were not an opportunity to avoid paying rent and tenants should continue to pay rent where they can.

“If tenants cannot pay their rent, they should talk to their landlord or property manager about their circumstances and ask them for a temporary reduction in rent,” she said.

“If an agreement is reached for a rent reduction, the agreement should be in writing and signed by both the landlord and tenant.

“Any agreement will be taken to form part of the residential tenancy agreement.”

A small number of exemptions apply to the moratorium on rental evictions, including unlawful use of a property as well as wilful damage and violence.

Tenants can choose to vacate if they have been issued with a notice to vacate and are in agreement with the notice.

In addition, a notice to vacate due to the sale of a property where that sale contract was signed before the notice was issued will also be exempt.

A notice to vacate can still be issued before 30 June 2020, however it will have no effect until after this date.

Tenants or landlords can also apply to break a fixed term lease if its continuation would cause severe hardship.

“Parties can apply to the Residential Tenancy Commissioner (the Commissioner) for an order to terminate the agreement in the case of severe COVID-19 related hardship,” Ms Archer said.

“The Commissioner advises that this option should be seen as a last resort and that it is best to maintain a positive relationship between landlords and tenants.

“Landlords and tenants are encouraged to discuss their concerns with each other.”

The Government has also made changes to limit property inspections and certain repairs from taking place to support social distancing requirements.

During the emergency period, general repairs and maintenance to residential rental properties are not required to be carried out.

“There is no change to requirements for emergency or urgent repairs as these are necessary to ensure the health and safety of tenants,” Ms Archer said.

Property inspections have also been limited during this time.

Ms Archer said ‘right of entry to a residential tenancy has changed meaning during the emergency period, meaning that a landlord or property agent can only undertake inspections under certain circumstances.

“These changes do not prevent inspection by a landlord or their property agent where it is agreed by the tenant,” she said.

“Before undertaking any allowed inspection during the emergency period, property agents and landlords should consider all current Public Health advice and social distancing requirements.

“The message is clear that we all need to stay home as much as possible in order to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

For more information about these changes, visit www.coronavirus.tas.gov.au, or contact Consuer, Building and Occupational Services on 1300 654 499 or email cbos.info@justice.tas.gov.au.

Caption: Attorney-General and Minister for Building and Construction Elise Archer.

Enjoy this story? Share it!

About the Author: Glenorchy Gazette

The Glenorchy Gazette is your monthly community newspaper, reaching over 24,000 homes and businesses in the Glenorchy municipality. It is the product of Nicolas Turner, Justine Brazil, Ben Hope, Simon Andrews, Tobias Hinds and guest contributors, with support from advertisers.

What’s new?

Go to Top