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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Three more months of government support for COVID-19 affected tenants

The ACT Government has extended transitional measures to support tenants dealing with the economic impacts of COVID-19 until the end of April.

Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury announced a three-month extension to the Residential Tenancies (COVID-19 Emergency Response) Declaration 2020 (No 3) today (Tuesday, 22 December).

“This has been a challenging year for Canberra renters who are struggling to make ends meet,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“This announcement will give tenants and landlords greater certainty this Christmas, and ensure tenants will be given more time and support to stay in their homes.”

The ACT Government introduced a six-month moratorium on evictions for rental arrears from April to October this year.

Since 23 October, transitional measures have protected COVID-19 affected tenants from being evicted on the basis of debt accrued during the eviction moratorium period, as long as they paid their rent as it fell due during the transition period.

After the moratorium period, the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT) must consider making a payment order rather than ordering COVID-19 affected tenants be evicted if they cannot meet their rent payments.

The transitional measures also allow COVID-19 impacted tenants in fixed-term leases to end their leases early and without penalty if they need to move due to a change in their circumstances.

The Territory government is also supporting landlords who have reduced rent for tenants affected by COVID-19 by at least 25%, through land tax and rates rebates available for the period to 30 June 2021.

Earlier this month, Emma Davidson MLA, Minister for Community Recovery, and Rebecca Vassarotti MLA, Minister for Homelessness and Housing Services, expressed their concern that the Federal Government’s New Year Day proposed cut to the Coronavirus Supplement of $250 per fortnight would put struggling locals at risk of homelessness.

“Many people in Canberra are struggling to afford to pay rent, and cutting income support puts these people under even more pressure,” Ms Vassarotti said at the time.

“In Canberra we’ve seen rental prices remain steady despite the general economic downturn and the huge number of people who have lost work. This means the cuts will have a disproportionate impact on renters and low-income earners in the ACT.”  For more information about the measures, click here.

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