WA tenants get COVID-19 grant to pay rent arrears

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THE Western Australian government has re-purposed the COVID-19 relief grants expanded to help tenants pay their rent debt to landlords.

The Residential Rent Relief Grant Scheme will assist tenants facing financial hardship due to the pandemic to pay their rent debt when the eviction and rent increase moratorium ends.

So far more than 5,700 tenants who applied for the existing grant have been provided financial assistance amounting to $8 million of the allocated $30 million.

The unspent funds remaining in the existing grant scheme will be re-purposed to provide landlords with direct one-off payments equivalent to 75% of the accrued rent arrears incurred during the emergency period, up to a maximum of $4,000. This will include any rent that was waived or deferred during the emergency period.

A key condition of landlords receiving the funding is that a fixed-term tenancy agreement of six months or longer is entered into with the existing tenant at a reasonable rent that is affordable.

The government estimates 3,750 to 4,000 tenancies will be preserved by this measure.

Commerce Minister John Quigley said the expanded grant scheme will be welcome news for many tenants and landlords who have been doing it tough.

“The new grants will help tenants clear a large proportion of their rent debt and put them, along with the landlord, in a better position to negotiate an extension of their tenancy, helping them stay in their home until they can get back on their feet financially.

“Many landlords have also been suffering financially, having to accept reduced or deferred rent arrangements during this challenging time, so the extra assistance is designed to offset the deficit in their income.” Quigley said.

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