Barr encourages rent reductions for tenants under stress

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THE ACT government is encouraging landlords to reduce rents by at least 25 per cent for tenants under rental stress.

With a number of renters expected to receive financial support through the Commonwealth Wage Subsidy scheme, Chief Minister Andrew Barr says this could result in rental relief of up to $200 a week for tenants who have lost income due to COVID-19.

Mr Barr says the ACT government will also delay the issuing of all general rates notices by four weeks, and push back payment dates by that time, to allow people eligible for Commonwealth assistance to start receiving it.

“Some households in the territory will have significant financial hardship in the months ahead,” he says.

“To help ease cashflow pressures for these households, any owner occupier in the territory experiencing hardship because of COVID-19 will be eligible for a deferral of their general household rates for 12 months. No interest will be applied to the deferred amount.”

Mr Barr says commercial landlords will need to play a part in this, too, and the ACT government has created a new framework to assist commercial landlords in providing rent relief for local business tenants who have had their business operations restricted.

“Depending on the level of hardship commercial tenants are facing, landlords will be eligible to apply for a waiver or rebate on their commercial rates, tied to the rental relief passed onto their tenants,” he says.

“A tiered category system will be put in place to ensure that tenants that have little to no impact to their financial situation are required to continue to meet their rental obligations, while those that suffering the most financial hardship get the highest level of support from both their landlord and the ACT government through matched relief.”

Further economic survival measures to support businesses through this pandemic include;

  • Rental relief to commercial and community tenants of ACT government owned properties that have been significantly impact by the virus;
  • A guarantee to continue providing a six month waiver of payroll tax any businesses whose operations are directly affected by the ‘prohibited activities list’ now, and into the future; and
  • Deferring the issuing of notices for 2019-20 quarter four commercial rates installments by four weeks to provide immediate cash flow assistance to commercial property owners.

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