South Australia has introduced a moratorium on evictions and a ban on rent increases to protect residential tenants in the Coronavirus emergency period and provide financial relief for South Australian landlords and tenants. Landlords will also receive financial relief with the government cutting land taxes.
Moratorium on eviction and ban on rent increases
Tenants are strongly encouraged to maintain a ‘rent first’ approach and pay any amount they can towards their rent obligations however, those who are unable to make their rent payments due to severe financial distress caused by the Covid-19 pandemic downturn will not be evicted. Tenants who are unable to pay their rent due to a loss of income will also not be blacklisted during the emergency period.
While landlords are unable to increase rent during the Covid-19 pandemic, tenants and landlords are encouraged to discuss alternative payment arrangements if needed. If no agreement can be made, landlords may apply to the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT) to try to resolve the matter, however, the Tribunal cannot terminate a residential tenancy for a failure to pay rent where the tenant is suffering financial hardship as a result of COVID-19. At this stage, nothing has been announced about whether the outstanding rent money will need to be paid back once the pandemic is over.
Inspections during the emergency period
Routine inspections are only able to occur by digital means. Landlords may request a live video chat or time-stamped photographs of the property, however, tenants can not be found in breach of their tenancy for not completing a routine inspection in this way. There would need to be exceptional circumstances for a landlord/agent needing to physically carry out an inspection.
Land tax cuts for landlords
The South Australian government has cut land tax by $189m from July, and extended a $13m relief package to allow deferment of 2019-20 land tax bills by six months. The South Australian treasurer, Rob Lucas, has also signalled that further land tax relief measures will be announced.
For more information on the South Australian government’s to provide financial relief for South Australian landlords and tenants, visit their website.