Scheme to help renters during crisis

Tom ChapmanThe Kimberley Echo
Rent relief is on its way.
Camera IconRent relief is on its way. Credit: RegionalHUB

If you’re a private renter who’s lost their job in the coronavirus crunch, you may be wondering how to afford what’s likely the household’s biggest weekly expense — the rent.

The State Government has announced a $30 million residential rental relief scheme, which will see payments of up to $2000 granted to landlords on behalf of renters in financial strife due to the pandemic.

Renters can apply for the grant online. To qualify you must be in ‘financial hardship’, meaning you’ve lost your job on or after March 20 due to COVID-19, have applied for, or are now receiving, Centrelink income support, plus your household must have less than $10,000 in savings and be spending at least 25 per cent of its available after-tax income on rent.

You must have agreed to a reduction in rent with your landlord or engaged in Consumer Protection’s conciliation service.

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A tenancy bond would have been, or shortly will be, lodged with the Bond Administrator, and you must live in either a private residential property, rooming house or residential park.

Documentary evidence showing you meet the above criteria is required, as well as proof of citizenship, residency or an appropriate visa.

It’s important to remember that the grant must be applied for by the renter, but will be paid directly to the landlord.

Neither party will need to repay the grant, however, the landlord needs to ensure the lower rent is payable for the minimum period or that the amount of the grant offsets any deferred rental debt.

It is important that the renter receives the benefits of the grant along with the landlord.

The scheme is due to expire on 29 September 2020, however, it’s the total available for all grants is $30 million.

Visit commerce.wa.gov.au/consumer-protection/residential-rent-relief-grant-scheme.

Tom Chapman is the senior regional manager for Consumer Protection in the Kimberley

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