COVID-19 and reducing your rent

COVID-19 and reducing your rent

Renting laws in Victoria have changed because of COVID-19 coronavirus. These new laws have been extended and will last until at least 28 March 2021. These laws give new rights to people who rent their homes (tenants). This includes people who live in a rooming house, caravan, residential park or specialist disability accommodation (residents).

If you are a tenant or resident, there are four things you need to know:

  • if you cannot afford your rent, you can ask your landlord to reduce it. If your landlord does not agree, you can go to dispute resolution or apply for an order to change your rent
  • your landlord must not list you on a residential tenancy database (blacklist) if you cannot pay your rent because of COVID-19 coronavirus
  • your landlord must not increase your rent
  • if you are not sure about your rights, you can get legal advice. See Get help with housing and tenancy.

What if I cannot afford my rent?

Work out how much rent you can afford to pay. You may be able to get financial help to pay your rent. See Housing Vic rent relief.

If you cannot pay your usual rent because of COVID-19 coronavirus, you can ask for either of these options:

  • reduce your rent temporarily to an amount you can afford. You should try this option first
  • a payment plan so that you can pay your rent and overdue rent by instalments (part-payments).

For more information and suggestions about how to talk to your landlord about reducing your rent, see Consumer Affairs Victoria information on negotiating a rent reduction.

What if my landlord agrees to reduce my rent?

If your landlord (the person you rent from) agrees to reduce your rent, put this agreement in writing. You can write down the agreement and ask them to sign it, or they can write it down and give you a copy. The agreement should include:

  • your name as tenant or resident
  • your landlord’s name
  • the address of the property you are renting
  • the amount of rent you were paying before the agreement
  • the new amount of rent you will pay
  • how long you will be paying the new amount of rent.

It is important to register your agreement with Consumer Affairs Victoria. If you register your agreement, you may be able to get more help if you still cannot pay your rent. See What if I cannot afford the reduced rent?

What if my landlord refuses to reduce my rent?

If you and your landlord cannot agree about reducing your rent, you can:

What happens at mediation?

Consumer Affairs Victoria may refer you to the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria for mediation. That means that an independent, accredited person (called a mediator) will talk to you and your landlord. They will help you both work out what you disagree about, consider different options and try to reach an agreement.

If you reach an agreement, you should to register your agreement with Consumer Affairs Victoria. If you register your agreement, you may be able to get more help if you still cannot pay your rent. See What if I cannot afford the reduced rent?

What if we cannot agree?

If mediation is not appropriate for you, or does not work, Consumer Affairs Victoria may:

  • ask the Chief Dispute Resolution Officer for Residential Tenancies to make an order to reduce your rent. The officer may also make orders about refund of rent or to stop you or your landlord from breaking your tenancy agreement. This is a new, temporary process that will be managed by Consumer Affairs Victoria. For more information, see Consumer Affairs Victoria information on binding orders to determine rent reduction
  • refer you to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. You can ask the tribunal to make an order to reduce the amount of rent you must pay. The tribunal will have a hearing where you and the landlord can explain your situation. The tribunal member will ask about your finances to help them decide whether to reduce your rent, by how much and for how long.

What if I cannot afford the reduced rent?

You may be eligible for a payment of up to $3,000 to help you pay your rent if your rent has been reduced in any of these ways:

To get this payment, all the following must apply:

  • you have less than $10,000 in savings
  • your reduced rent is still 30 percent or more of your income
  • your household income is less than $1,903 per week.

You do not have to be an Australian citizen or permanent resident to apply for this payment.

See Housing Vic rent relief.

Can I be put on a tenancy blacklist if I cannot pay my rent?

No. Your landlord must not list you on a residential tenancy database (blacklist) if you cannot pay your rent because of COVID-19 coronavirus.

Can my rent be increased?

No. Your landlord must not increase your rent or give you a notice saying they want to increase your rent, until after 28 March 2021.

More information

Learn more about legal issues and COVID-19 coronavirus.

See COVID-19 and ending your tenancy.

See COVID-19 and being evicted.

See Consumer Affairs Victoria Coronavirus (COVID-19) and your rights.

Visit our ‘Find legal answers’ page on Renting.

Where to get help

See Get help with housing and tenancy.

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