26 September 2023

Renters’ COVID relief to be extended

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Commissioner for Consumer Protection, Gary Newcombe has offered advice to those still struggling to stay afloat financially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his weekly blog, Mr Newcombe said renters who were unemployed, or who had lost more than half their income, should know that the Residential Rent Relief Grant Scheme would now remain open until the end of the year.

“Originally due to close on 28 June, the Scheme has so far made around 8,300 grant payments worth more than $11.6 million to help struggling tenants and their landlords,” Mr Newcombe said.

“Extending the program to 31 December will provide further targeted assistance for those tenants in financial hardship, including those who rely on Centrelink as a primary income,” he said.

The Commissioner said Consumer Protection was aware that rental prices had risen across the State.

“Tenants who are struggling financially and facing a significant rent increase may be eligible to receive a rent support grant,” Mr Newcombe said.

“The grant offers up to $2,000 per tenancy, so long as their landlord agrees to a lease of at least six months,” he said.

“Other tenants may be in rental arrears, in which case they could be entitled to have up to 75 per cent of the debt — up to a maximum of $4,000 — paid directly to eligible landlords.

“In return, the landlord and tenant must enter into a minimum six-month lease agreement.”

The Commissioner said, however, even though some tenants might fit the criteria for both rent arrears assistance and rent support, they could not receive both grants.

“In this situation, our processing officer will work out which grant will be of the greatest benefit and this will be paid to the landlord on the applicant’s behalf,” Mr Newcombe said.

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