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Housing during Covid-19

If you are renting

The Tenants’ Union has lots of up to date information for tenants:

Frequently asked questions

SUPRA has been assisting many international students with tenancy matters related to the impacts of Covid-19. Here are the answers to the most common questions.

Q. Can my landlord evict me if I can’t pay my rent?

From 15 April 2020 there has been a 60 day stop on evictions if you fall behind in your rent because of financial hardship caused by Covid-19. You must be able to show that:

  • you have lost or have reduced employment because of Covid-19; or
  • you cannot work because either you, or someone in the household, or someone you care for has Covid-19; and
  • because of this your total household has had a reduction in income of 25% or more

Find out more about eligibility and the process.

Q. What happens if our household income has reduced by 25% or more because of Covid-19?

If you need a rent reduction, the landlord must enter into good faith negotiations. If you do negotiate a rent reduction, make sure you get it in writing.

Q. What information about my finances can the landlord ask for?

Legally the landlord can’t ask you for this information. But, if you do provide proof of your loss of income such as payslips, or bank statements, it might help with negotiations.

Landlords can’t tell you to access your superannuation to cover the rent. They can only make you aware of the Government’s early Superannuation Access scheme. Find out more about eligibility and how to apply.

Q. What if I can’t negotiate a rent reduction with my landlord?

From 14 May 2020 tenants who can’t negotiate a rent reduction with their landlord can seek to terminate their lease through the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT).

If a termination order is made under the relevant law, compensation (a break fee) may be payable to the landlord of not more than two weeks rent.

See the NCAT website for more details, and for how to make an application to NCAT.

Q. Even with a rent reduction I can’t afford it and I want to leave?

If you’re in a periodic (or ongoing) agreement, you still need to give 21 days notice. If you’re in a fixed term agreement, you’ll need to break the lease.

You’ll need to pay the break fee or compensation for breaking the lease early but try and negotiate with the landlord. If you think you might need to break your lease, contact SUPRA for advice before you take any action.

Q. What happens after the 60 day stop on eviction?

If you’re still behind in your rent, the landlord can issue a 14-day termination notice because of rental arrears. But they can only do this if they followed all the steps in the process and it is fair and reasonable.

Q. What happens if I get a termination notice from the landlord after the 60 days?

If your household income was affected by Covid-19, you don’t have to leave. The landlord will need to go to NCAT for an order.

If you receive a notice from your landlord, contact SUPRA for advice.

Q. If I do get a rent reduction, do I need to pay it back?

The changes don’t waive the landlord’s right to ask you to pay the waived rent after the 60 days. When negotiating with your landlord, try and work this in to your agreement.

Q. Will I be placed on a tenancy database by my landlord?

For the 6 months from 15 April 2020, you can’t be listed on a tenancy database (‘blacklisted’) if the listing is for rent arrears which happened because you were financially impacted by Covid-19.

If you’re not an impacted tenant, you could be listed on a tenancy database for up to 3 years.

More information

Find out more about what you need to know about renting and Covid-19.

Find out more about the laws that prevent tenants being evicted during the Covid-19 pandemic.

SUPRA can provide advice and assistance with tenancy and other Covid-19 related problems.

Updated: 20 May 2020

The SUPRA office is closed – but you can still get help!

To help protect the health of our community during COVID-19 SUPRA's Student Advice and Advocacy Service, Legal Service and council are working from home. We are working to full capacity and are providing timely and accurate information, advice and support.