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FACT SHEET COVID-19 Rent Relief -Temporary Migrants Eligible to Apply Opens 25th May

Fact Sheet for Tenants the Tasmanian Government has established the COVID-19 Rent Relief to provide rent relief payments of up to $2000 to support Tasmanian's experiencing rental hardship due to the corona-virus (COVID-19) pandemic.


The scheme starts from Monday 25 May 2020 and is available until 30 September 2020.


What is the COVID-19 Rent Relief payment?


The COVID-19 Rent Relief payment is a one-off payment. It is paid directly to landlords or their agents who have entered into an approved temporary rent reduction agreement with their tenant to keep them securely housed in their principal place of residence. The payment is made directly to the landlord or agent to contribute to the tenant’s modified rental payments, under their temporary rental reduction agreement. The value of the payment will contribute to or be equal to the rent reduction provided until 30 September 2020 but will not exceed $2 000. The payment can only be applied for once during this period.


Who is an eligible tenant?

A tenant is eligible for rent relief if:

• you are a tenant renting in the private rental market

• you have experienced and can demonstrate financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic

• your rent is more than 30 per cent of your household income

• the household has less than $5 000 in savings

• your landlord or agent has agreed to reduce your rent for a set period.


How do I apply for rent relief?

1. Speak with your landlord or agent to discuss the scheme, your eligibility and the terms of a potential rent reduction.


2. Together with your landlord or agent, complete a Rent Relief Application Form. Forms are available from 25 May 2020 from Housing Connect at www.communities.tas.gov.au/housing/rentalservices or by calling 1800 800 588.


3. Contact Housing Connect to confirm your eligibility for the scheme.

• You will need to provide income statements, payslips, bank statements and Centrelink statements to Housing Connect so they can assess your eligibility.

• You will also need to provide your tenancy agreement and your Rent Relief Application Form. If approved as eligible, your application form will be submitted for approval by the Department of Justice. The approval process may take up to two business days.


4. Once approved the reduced rental amount will apply for the specified period and your landlord or agent will receive payment of the rent reduction grant.


Where can I get more information?

Contact Housing Connect on 1800 800 588 for more information about the scheme and whether you are eligible.

Example: Jane currently pays $350 per week in rent for a private rental property she shares with her partner. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jane lost her regular shifts in a local retail outlet. Jane contacted her landlord to discuss temporarily reducing her rent for the next few months to make things easier for her until her work picks up again. Together they follow a simple process to agree and implement a rent relief agreement that allows Jane’s rent to be reduced by 25 per cent for the next 3 months:


• Together, they discuss the situation and complete a Rent Relief Application Form (from www.communities.tas.gov.au/housing/rental-services to confirm the agreed reduction in rent and time it applies.

• Jane contacts Housing Connect and provides them with a copy of this application and her income information confirming the financial impact of COVID-19. Housing Connect then checks that Jane meets all other eligibility requirements for the assistance, including her and her partner’s bank statements to ensure the household does not have savings of more than $5000.

• If eligible, Housing Connect will submit the application for approval by the Department of Justice.

• The Department of Justice will approve or decline the application within two business days. If approved they’ll confirm the date the rent reduction starts and authorise payment of the grant to the landlord or agent.

• Jane starts paying the reduced rental amount once the application has been approved. PAGE 3 of 4 | COVID-19 Rent Relief Payment – Tenant Fact Sheet FAQs for tenants What should I do if I can’t afford my rent? If you are unable to pay your rent due to financial hardship, in the first instance you should contact your landlord or property manager as soon as possible to negotiate an alternative arrangement such as rent reduction.

When you reach an agreement, make sure it is in writing. A template for recording your agreement can be found at www.communities.tas.gov.au/housing/rental-services as part of the application form for rent relief. You may then be eligible for the COVID-19 Rent Relief. Please note that until 30 June 2020, landlords are not able to increase rents. Any rental relief is therefore not to be paid due to rent increases.


Should I stop paying my rent?

No. To avoid breaching your tenancy agreement it is important you continue to pay your rent. If you are experiencing rental hardship, in the first instance you should contact your agent, lessor or landlord to negotiate an alternative arrangement such as rent reduction.

What if I can’t reach an agreement with my agent or landlord?

If you are experiencing rental hardship and cannot reach agreement with your landlord on a rent reduction, you can contact the Office of the Residential Tenancy Commissioner.


What if my landlord wants to know if I am eligible before agreeing to a rent reduction?

Landlords have been encouraged to negotiate in good faith. You will be required to provide a copy of your tenancy agreement and rent reduction agreement before your eligibility can be assessed.


Am I eligible if I live with other people and have a shared lease?

Yes. If you are one of the lease holders in your home and meet the eligibility criteria you may qualify for a payment that represents your portion of the rent. If you are experiencing financial difficulty paying your rent due to a loss or reduction of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in the first instance you and the other tenants on the lease should contact your agent, lessor or landlord to negotiate an alternative arrangement such as rent reduction.


Can I apply if I sub-let a room?

Yes, you can apply if you have a sub-let agreement in a tenancy. You will need to provide your written sublease agreement and rent reduction agreement and meet all other eligibility criteria.

I’m not an Australian Citizen. Am I able to access the payment?

Yes, there are no citizenship or permanent residency requirements for applicants. Applicants that may be eligible include casual workers on holiday and working visas, skilled visas, seasonal workers, New Zealand citizens and all refugee and temporary protection visa holders. PAGE 4 of 4 | COVID-19 Rent Relief Payment – Tenant Fact Sheet


How do I apply for a rent reduction?

To determine your eligibility for COVID-19 Rent Relief, contact Housing Connect on 1800 800 588. Applications for the scheme will open on Monday 25 May 2020 and can be found at at www.communities.tas.gov.au/housing/rental-services.

You will be required to provide your rent reduction agreement (which is part of the application form) and information to confirm your eligibility. If you are eligible, Housing Connect will refer your application to the Department of Justice who will approve your temporary rent reduction and will authorise the Rent Reduction Payment to your landlord.


Will my landlord have to pay the payment back?

No. Your landlord will not have to pay the payment back.


What if I’m not eligible but I’m at risk of losing my tenancy for other reasons?

A range of additional protections have been put in place to prevent termination of leases during the COVID-19 emergency period. Rents must not be increased, leases must not be terminated by the landlord, and you can break a lease due to severe hardship. Housing Connect may be able to help you sustain your tenancy. Information on your rights as a tenant can also be found here.


Am I eligible if I have a social housing tenancy?

No. The COVID-19 Rent Relief scheme aims to support tenants experiencing rental hardship in private rentals. If you are experiencing rental hardship in your social housing tenancy, you should contact your housing provider in the first instance.


Source : Fact sheet developed by Tasmanian Government

https://www.communities.tas.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0027/89721/COVID19-rent-reflief-payment-tenant-fact-sheet.pdf

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