The New South Wales (NSW) Government has introduced a residential tenancy support package to assist tenants and their landlords who have been impacted financially by the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications for the support package close on 31 December 2021 – so eligible tenants should act quick and make a claim through NSW Fair Trading.
The scheme will provide support payments of up to $4,500.00 towards tenancies 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 per cent or more and their landlord has not previously applied for the rental support package.
Prospective applicants should be conscious that the support payment is not a cash payment made directly to the tenant, but rather is paid to the landlord (or their agent) as a credit against rent payable by the tenant.
The NSW Government launched the scheme on 11 November 2021, coinciding with the day the freeze on evictions ended in NSW. This freeze prevented landlords from evicting COVID-19 affected tenants from their properties. Since 14 July 2021, landlords of residential tenancies have been able to apply for support payments of up to $4,500.00 in situations where their tenant is considered a “COVID-19 impacted tenant”. However, applications for this earlier scheme were reserved for landlords or their agents, and could not be made by a tenant.
This meant that potentially impacted tenants had no right to make an application for support if their landlord was not willing to do so.
In an effort to redress this situation, the new scheme allows for an application to be initiated by an eligible tenant, landlord or managing agent. The new scheme is also structured such that a tenant listed on the tenancy agreement does not need to be affected personally, but allows for an exception where a “rent paying member of the household” has been affected. This person does not need to be named on the rental agreement.
To be considered eligible for the scheme, an applicant must provide that:
there is a residential tenancy agreement;
the eligible tenants reside in the property;
in the period since 14 July 2021, the household income of the tenant was, or continues to be, reduced by 25% or more compared to the four weeks prior to 26 June 2021; and
the reduction in household income was due to illness or loss of income due to COVID-19.
The scheme is not available to tenants or operators of boarding houses, properties used for short term rental accommodation, public housing or sub-tenant arrangements.
Eligible tenants must provide the following information:
proof of tenancy (i.e. a signed residential tenancy agreement and/or rental bond number);
evidence of a loss of income due to COVID-19; and
consent by their landlord and/or managing agent to provide Revenue NSW with their personal details, including bank account details.
Evidence to satisfy Fair Trading includes (but is not limited to) payslips, bank statements, documentation from an employer, evidence of business closure, Centrelink documentation or medical certificates.