The ACT Government has announced more information will be provided for tenants, landlords and real estate agents to navigate the uncertainty around rental relief measures initiated in response to COVID-19.
Work is also being done to prevent tenants being “blacklisted” if they aren’t able to pay rent, while landlords and tenants will be allowed to reach an agreement to freeze payments temporarily, with the outstanding rent to be a debt owed to the landlord.
ACT Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay urged landlords and tenants to work together to reach an agreement if a freeze on payments is required, which will not accrue interest in that period.
Mr Ramsay said the additional information has been designed to set out what is acceptable behaviour when a tenant is unable to make rental payments due to the impact of the virus.
“This information should help parties understand their rights and obligations as the ACT Government works with other State and Territory Governments to finalise regulatory frameworks for residential tenancies and the six-month moratorium on evictions.”
He said while the ACT has put measures in place, such as financial incentives for landlords to reduce rents, this was not “a licence for tenants to completely forgo their rental obligations”.
“If you can continue to pay your rent, then you will be required to continue doing so,” he said.
On 2 April, the ACT Government announced a number of rental relief measures to support tenants through the COVID-19 crisis, including seeing landlords eligible for land tax and rates rebates. While the measures were received with welcome relief, there were some calls for the Government to do more to ensure renters avoid falling into debt, such as a temporary reduction in rent payments.
The Federal Government has previously announced a six-month moratorium on evictions, and the ACT Government is working to prepare regulations to support this, as well as a new regulatory framework for residential tenancies.
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