The COVID-19 pandemic is a difficult time for many tenants and property owners and managers.
The Queensland Government has recently passed laws to implement the National Cabinet’s temporary six-month freeze on evictions, which have now been implemented in every state and territory.
Under the COVID-19 freeze on evictions, tenants who are considered significantly impacted by or suffering excessive hardship because of COVID-19 – meaning they fulfil both criteria listed below – cannot be evicted or listed in a tenancy database.
They have been impacted by COVID-19 in any of the following ways:
they or someone they care for suffers from COVID-19;
their place of employment, trade or business is closed or restricted by public health directions;
they are self-isolating because they are a vulnerable person, or live with or are a primary carer of a vulnerable person;
a travel restriction imposed by a public health direction or other law prevents them working or returning home, or
the COVID-19 emergency has prevented them leaving or returning to Australia
They have suffered a loss of income of 25% or more, or the rent payable is now 30% or more of their household’s income.
For tenants experiencing excessive hardship because of COVID-19, fixed term agreements due to expire during the COVID-19 pandemic must also be extended to 30 September 2020 unless the tenant requests a shorter term.
Tenants who have not been affected to this level will still need to meet their tenancy obligations, including paying their rent as normal.
The Queensland Government has also made changes to give tenants experiencing domestic and family violence more options to end their tenancy arrangements. This will enable them to put plans in place to protect their families and to leave if needed.
We also know property owners may also be impacted by COVID-19.
If your income has been impacted and you are finding it hard to meet your side of the rental agreement, there may be financial relief available for you, such as Commonwealth income support, Queensland Government land tax relief, or you could speak with your financial institution to discuss the possibility of temporary relief from mortgage repayments during COVID-19.
These new laws also include provisions for owners to be able to move into their rental property if needed and with the appropriate notice, and for the property owner or manager to be able to virtually inspect a rental property.
We are urging tenants who are experiencing financial difficulties to talk to their property owner or manager about what is affordable and reasonable for both them and the owner, and to negotiate a temporary rental agreement. We’re asking tenants, owners and property managers alike to work together and keep each other updated if their situation changes.