Seeking rent reduction during the coronavirus crisis
With the coronavirus causing businesses to temporarily to close down, many international students are out of work, impacting their ability to pay rent.
No matter where you live right now, if you’re a tenant having difficulties keeping up with rent payments due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, you can speak with your landlord/property manager and negotiate a rent reduction.
I lost my job, how can I ask for a rent reduction?
If you have been financially affected by the coronavirus crisis, you can contact your landlord. You can negotiate about paying a reduced or no rent for a period.
You can let them know how your income has changed and what you can afford on a weekly basis. It would help your case if you can provide them a statement from your employer.
Template letters for a rent reduction
To help you out, NSW Fair Trading has provided a template and example letter you can use when approaching your landlord.
Can I be evicted during this crisis?
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a six-month restriction on evictions due to rent arrears for those under financial distress because of coronavirus.
For you to be protected by this six-month moratorium, you should be able to demonstrate at least one of the following:
- One or more rent-paying members of a household have lost employment or income (or had a reduction in employment or income). Also, that it was caused due to COVID-19 business closures or stand-downs.
- One or more rent-paying members of a household have had to stop working or reduce work hours due to illness with COVID-19.
- Due to COVID-19 carer responsibilities for household or family members, and the above factors result in at least a 25% reduction in household income (inclusive of any government assistance).
It is important to note that residential tenancies come under state and territory government rules. For that reason, there are several grounds for ending a tenancy. The exact laws on this vary depending on where you live.
My agent suggested for me to use my superannuation to pay rent, what should I do?
Real estate agents who ask their tenants to access their superannuation in order to pay rent would be prosecuted by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC):
“Financial advice must only be provided by qualified and licensed financial advisers or financial counselors. It cannot be provided by real estate agents who neither hold the requisite license. The agents are not an authorized representative of an Australian Financial Services Licensee.” ASIC said earlier this month.
“Tenants facing financial difficulty need sound financial guidance and potentially debt counseling. Specifically pointing them to and recommending them to consider the specific possibility of accessing superannuation is, again, likely to amount to a breach of the [Corporations] Act.”
If your agent does so, you may want to refer them to this ASIC Media Release. They may face up to five years in prison and fines of up to $126,000. Companies face up to $1.26 million if they do so.
Where can I get financial and welfare support?
If you’re having trouble paying bills, contact your service provider(eg. electricity, gas, water or telephone). Ask them about their customer assistance program. You can also contact your bank or credit card provider to ask about hardship arrangements.
Ask your education provider or your student association if they can help. They may be able to offer you info about student loans or other support.
You can also call the National Debt Hotline on 1800 007 007 for free, confidential advice from a financial counsellor. The hotline is open from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm, Monday to Friday.
Other welfare support places you can contact:
If you have not been impacted by COVID-19, you are expected to honor your existing tenancy agreements including paying all rent and charges in full.
If you need assistance, make sure to contact us and speak with our team.