Over the last year, Shelter NSW has joined other tenant advocacy organisations in calling for genuine support for renters hard hit by the Covid lockdown.
The NSW Government did make a commitment to provide rental relief, with a $440 million scheme (split evenly between commercial and residential tenancies).
Just as we welcomed the eviction moratorium, we welcomed that announcement – but predicted that the financial relief program would not, due to its design, deliver genuine rental relief for renters-in-need.
There were just too many hurdles for residential landlords and their tenants to jump over – not least of which was a requirement for the landlord to pay land tax on the property in order to qualify for this scheme (fewer than 20% of landlords pay this tax).
We pointed this out to relevant Ministers and Members of Parliament in direct correspondence last year.
The NSW Government has recently confirmed that just $10.33 million of the budgeted $220 million was paid to residential landlords (with those landlords to pass that on to tenants).
This is definitely a case of where we’re not happy to say – “we told you so”.
This SMH article by Megan Gorrey provides a bit more detail.
Meanwhile, the pandemic eviction moratorium has ceased and Commonwealth income supports has dropped back. Right across NSW, there are tenants carrying significant rent deferral debts (some planned but many unexpected).
There are a new set rules that have come into play to guide negotiations between tenants who have accrued these debts and their landlords. These have been set out on the NSW Government Department of Fair Trading site.
Again, while this creates another 6 month eviction moratorium of sorts we assume that a large number of evictions are inevitable. If only there was a funded rental relief scheme that could be accessed…