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Landlords seek answers on NSW tenant support plan

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The NSW government has announced new support measures for tenants and landlords, but hasn't provided the detail on how they will work. Photo: Shutterstock

Landlords seek answers on NSW tenant support plan

Landlords and tenants are seeking additional details from the New South Wales government after it announced it would provide additional support to those affected by COVID-19 after its moratorium on evictions and freeze on rental increases expires later this month.

Landlords and tenants are seeking additional details from the New South Wales government after it announced it would provide additional support to those affected by COVID-19 after its moratorium on evictions and freeze on rental increases expires later this month.

COVID-19 related support measures are set to expire on March 26 in NSW, with Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation Kevin Martin today announcing new measures to help rental markets adjust to the current economic climate.

Those measures include a six-month transition from March 26, to ensure tenants with COVID-induced rental arrears are protected from being evicted.

Landlords and tenants will receive support to put in place repayment plans, while COVID-19 impacted tenants will be protected from being blacklisted on tenancy databases for rental arrears.

“From March 27, tenants and landlords will be supported to enter a repayment plan for any COVID-induced arrears and tenants can only be evicted if they fail to meet the terms of that plan,” Mr Martin said.

“Our number one priority has always been to keep people safe and in accommodation, and introducing a transition process instead of bringing this support to an abrupt halt is by far the most fair way to ensure this happens.”

Real Estate Institute of NSW chief executive Tim McKibbin said it was unclear what the support would entail, noting that there had been no support given to landlords to date.

“At face value, this appears to be an appropriate attempt to respond to the improving economic picture and resilient employment market, but, as ever, the devil will be in the detail,” Mr McKibbin said.

“Consumers and the real estate industry now await the fine print of the revised scheme, including new information on notice periods, repayment plan guidelines and other specific details in order for tenants, landlords and property managers to ensure they’re being compliant.”

Mr McKibbin said it was also not evident what the issue was that the government is attempting to solve.

“Tenants who are seeking assistance range from people who have sought a small reduction in rent, which the landlord has absorbed, to those who have no means to pay their rent whatsoever, leaving the landlord completely out of pocket,” he said. 

“The Residential Tenancies Act already contains hardship provisions.

“It is unclear as to how any new legislation introduced by the NSW Government will solve problems which the existing provisions are unable to deal with.”

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