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An extension of the current COVID-19 relief scheme will help out property owners who assisted tenants struggling during the pandemic by agreeing to reduce, defer or waive rent, according to the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia.
Under the extension, WA tenants will now be able to pay their rent debt directly to property owners when the emergency tenancy laws end on 28 March. The move is intended to incentivise property owners to maintain existing tenancies and prevent evictions when the moratorium ends, REIWA said.
So far, more than 5,700 tenants who applied for the existing grant have received financial assistance, totaling $8 million of the allocated $30 million. The unused funds will be repurposed to provide property owners with one-time payments equivalent to 75% of the accrued rent arrears incurred during the COVID-19 emergency, up to a maximum of $4,000, REIWA said. That includes any rent that was reduced, waived or deferred.
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For property owners to be eligible, a key condition is that a fixed-term tenancy agreement of six months or longer is entered into with an existing tenant at a reasonable, affordable rent.
Tenants can apply for the new grants scheme if they:
- Lost their job or 50% of their income due to COVID-19, or were in a receipt of a Centrelink payment (excluding JobKeeper) on or after 20 March 2020.
- Have less than $10,000 in savings
- Pay more than 25% of their income in rent per week
- Are a tenant or sub-tenant in a private residential property, rooming house or residential park
- Have a tenancy agreement in place as of 1 December 2020
- Incurred the debt before 1 December 2020 and have a bond lodged with the Bond Administrator
Applications for the scheme opened on 4 January and will close on 28 June.