Residential and commercial landlords in Melbourne will continue to be banned from evicting tenants until the end of the year, the Victorian government has announced on Thursday.
The state government agreed to the eviction moratorium extension amid concerns the jobless and struggling retailers won’t be able to afford full rent as Melbourne continues to grapple with its second lockdown and curb the spread.
Under the extension, evictions will continue to be banned until 31 December, with rental increases to be banned over the same period.
That moratorium, introduced in late March, has seen 26,000 agreements for reduced rent registered with Consumer Affairs Victoria, while advice and dispute resolution services have been accessed in excess of 80,000 times.
The state government said that more than 90 per cent had been signed off on, including more than 8,400 cases resolved through its Residential Tenancies Dispute Resolution Scheme.
Banks have continued to act as a backstop by offering loan repayment deferrals to help landlords ride out a fall in rental income, while the state government has rolled out relief measures to ease the financial burden on property owners.
“No one should have to be worried about losing a roof over their head right now,” Victorian premier Daniel Andrews said.
“This will give tenants certainty and security that they won’t lose their home or business while we fight this deadly pandemic.”
The extension follows an initial $500 million stimulus package announced in April to provide rent assistance.
Eligible residential tenants and landlords will now be supported with up to $3,000 in rental payments as part of the program, with new recipients able to apply for the full amount, and up to $1,000 extra available for previous recipients.
Land tax relief for eligible residential and commercial landlords is also being extended, and the potential discount has doubled from 25 per cent to 50 per cent.
A fund of $60 million for eligible small commercial landlords will be available via a hardship scheme, which will provide up to $3,000 per tenancy.
Tenant advocacy services, such as Tenants Victoria and the Victorian Council of Social Service, will also receive funding as part of a new $600,000 package.
Landlords and tenants not significantly affected by coronavirus are expected to honour their leases and rental agreements, the state government said.
Other states, which are not opening up their economies as quickly as initially planned and have continued to impose border closures at various levels and weigh up whether to extend tenancy relief.
The NSW government is consulting with the federal government and industry stakeholders about whether the commercial tenancy code, which expires in NSW on 24 October, should continue.
Queensland housing minister Mick de Brenni said his state would be guided by national cabinet as well as the government’s housing security subcommittee on whether to extend protections for renters.