State extends ban on evictions

Western Australia has extended state emergency rental laws for six months prohibiting rent increases and six-month evictions amid the economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The moratorium was supposed to end on September 29, but it was extended until March 28, 2021, which the government said was a measure to "preserve stability and certainty in the rental market" .

In a statement, the government said the measure was intended to help tenants of private and public housing, tenants of long-term residential parks, boarders and tenants to stay in their rental accommodation.

"Western Australia is entering a period of economic recovery, despite the ever-present threat of a second wave of infection," said John Quigley, WA Minister of Commerce. "Those who have been able to return to work are just starting to recover and adding to their concerns at this time significant potential issues with accessibility and availability of rental housing would be a horrible proposition."

The moratorium also prevents landlords from evicting tenants who do not pay their rent due to financial hardship resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, Quigley said landlords reserve the right to terminate a lease if a tenant is not financially affected by the coronavirus crisis.

"I want to stress that tenants who are not facing financial hardship related to COVID-19 still have to pay their rent or else they risk being evicted," he said.

The extension also applies to commercial tenants, but the government of WA has changed the eligibility rules to only include tenants who meet hardship thresholds that comply to JobKeeper's payment criteria.

Under existing commercial leasing measures, landlords are required to provide rent relief to businesses whose turnover has declined by 30%.

The government will also continue to provide up to four weeks of rent relief to those who can prove they are experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19.

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