Self resolution

Coming to an agreement on rent changes

The RTA encourages both parties to work together to resolve any issues caused by the impact of COVID-19, including:

  • inability of tenants to pay their rent
  • the owner or property manager’s right of entry during the declared emergency period
  • matters related to maintenance of the property while social distancing is still in place, and domestic and family violence matters. 

If you have not been significantly affected by COVID-19, you should continue to meet your tenancy obligations, including paying rent.
 
What if I can’t pay my rent?
 
If your income has fallen by more than 25% or your rent is more than 30% of your household’s income because of COVID-19, contact your property owner or manager as soon as possible.

Income is defined as the total weekly income after tax, including any government payments.
 
Make sure you try to access Federal Government support being provided for people affected by COVID-19, such as the JobKeeper or JobSeeker payments through Centrelink.
 
Let your property owner or manager know as soon as possible if you can’t pay your usual rent. We know this is a difficult conversation, so we’ve provided a template for a letter you can use to request to negotiate a rent variation due to COVID-19. 
 
Fill it out and email or post it to your property owner or manager.
 
We encourage you to negotiate reasonably, communicate openly and try to come to a mutual agreement. Agreeing together is the quickest way to resolve tenancy issues.
 
What evidence do I need to demonstrate COVID-19 related hardship?
 
If you are trying to negotiate a new rent amount or entry to the property during COVID-19, you are required to provide evidence that you are experiencing hardship and/or loss of income due to COVID-19. This could include providing the same information that you provided when you first signed your lease or tenancy agreement, to prove your change in circumstances.

Evidence to support your claim could include:

  • a copy of your employment separation letter
  • a letter from your employer noting reduced hours or saying you’ve been stood down, or other evidence of reduced hours
  • evidence that you’ve had to stop working or substantially reduce work hours due to illness with COVID-19, or to care for a household or family member with COVID-19, or have had to self-isolate due to health vulnerabilities
  • confirmation you’ve registered with Centrelink for income support
  • a doctor’s certificate to support restrictions on entry due to vulnerability or health concerns of household members. 

Ultimately, you need to determine what level of detail you are comfortable providing to demonstrate your COVID-19 related hardship. However, there are penalties for providing false or misleading information about COVID-19 related hardship.
 
Remember, your property owner might also be facing financial hardship. Please consider the impact COVID-19 is having on them as well.
 
If you come to an agreement on a temporary change in rent due to your circumstances, you will need to complete a tenancy variation agreement, which is Form 18d (for general tenancies), Form 18f (for moveable dwellings) or Form 18e (for rooming accommodation) to document your agreement and related details. Make sure both parties sign it and keep a copy of it for your records. This document will form part of your tenancy agreement.
 
What if we can’t agree on a new rent amount?
 
If you are unable to reach an agreement with your property owner/manager, free conciliation is available through the RTA, at which time both parties will be required to provide information to the RTA. The information you provide during conciliation will only be seen by an RTA conciliator and will not be passed on to the other party. 

See if you’re eligible for free COVID-19 dispute resolution.

Self resolution for tenants - Fact Sheet

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Current version: v2 July

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

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