Mediation process to help struggling tenants

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Chief Minister Andrew Barr.

A MEDIATION process will be set up in Canberra to ensure that struggling tenants can come to a reduced rent agreement with their landlords during the coronavirus pandemic.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr announced that the infrastructure will be put in place in the coming weeks but hopes the number of people who need to use the mediation process will be minimal.

“On residential tenancies the ACT Assembly has passed laws that give the attorney general regulatory powers to enforce both the National Cabinet direction around there being no evictions during this period but also to enact the ACT’s response which comes in different forms,” Mr Barr said.

For landlords, he said there will be significant tax relief available, including ACT government land tax and rates, if landlords lower rents for tenants who have had a dramatic decrease in their income.

“We do also have a scheme where all land tax can be remitted if a landlord rents their property through a community housing provider for 75 per cent or less of market rent,” he said.

“For landlords who wish to pay no land tax at all, the option exists to rent your property through a community housing provider as an affordable housing property to a family or household on a low or middle income. You will pay no land tax if you go down that path but you will only be allowed to charge up to 75 per cent market rent.

“For those who do not wish to participate in that scheme there is a matched ACT government scheme where we will rebate you, will not charge you land tax and rates if you lower rents by at least 25 per cent on a matched basis.

“So you have the option of going though a community housing provider or maintain your private rental arrangements. And in these circumstances where a tenant has had their income dramatically reduced, then the government will be waiving a range of taxes to assist landlords to lower rent. 

“In situations where the tenant’s income has not been affected, then tenants should continue to pay their rent. They have a legal obligation to do so and they will be liable to pay their rent in those circumstances where they have not had an income reduction.”

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