In Australia, tenants have several rights once they sign a lease agreement. These rights include the quiet enjoyment of the rented premises, which is safe and secure. On the flip side, your obligations include keeping the property clean, immediately notifying your landlord about any damage, and meeting your financial responsibilities.
With talk of JobKeeper and the like being phased out in the coming months, and COVID-19 impacting the financial situations of many Australians, you should make sure your property manager is fully aware of what your current and future financial situation looks like – in particular, your capacity to meet your rental obligations. In the current economic climate, many have been stood down, are unemployed or underemployed, you may wish to have a candid discussion with your property manager and start preparing for possible outcomes. Also, the benefit of making some sensible moves now could help protect your tenancy history in the longer-term, and particularly when you make your next rental application.
Thanks to the broader adoption of video technologies some savvy tenants recognise they can now work from home and are exploring more affordable suburbs further away from larger CBDs. There is also a regional shift with some tenants relocating to cities such as Gosford and Bathurst in NSW, Mandurah, south-west of Perth or major Victorian towns like Geelong to benefit from more affordable rents.
At the same time, Raine & Horne will continue to urge the government to keep JobKeeper and the expanded JobSeeker payment in place for as many Australians as possible as we continue to navigate through COVID-19.
Regarding government support, Centrelink also offers Rent Assistance. With this support, there's a minimum amount of rent you must pay to receive Rent Assistance. Then for every $1 of rent you pay above this amount, you'll earn 75c up to a maximum amount. For a single person, $139.60 is the maximum fortnightly assistance currently available.
To find out the amount of assistance you might be eligible to receive, go to www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/rent-assistance for more information. Also, be aware that Rent Assistance rates are adjusted on 20 March and 20 September each year, in line with the Consumer Price Index.
If you feel you might be facing financial difficulties, be sure to contact your Raine & Horne Property Manager to discuss your options.