Coronavirus and renting rights

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Fact sheet
January 2021

New laws will help tenants facing eviction if you can’t pay rent because of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The laws apply from 29 March 2020 for any tenant or sub-tenant in most properties. If you were given a Notice to Vacate from this date, it does not apply.

The landlord can apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to evict you for limited reasons including if you damage or use the property for criminal activity, if you do not pay rent where you could do so without financial hardship, or if the landlord wants to move back in.

1. What should I do if I can’t pay my rent?

Prepare information to help negotiate with your landlord.

You need to know:

  • how much income you will have from work and any government support, and how long this income will last
  • if you qualify for the Government’s rent relief grant
  • what savings you have
  • your important spending - for example, food, clothing, medical needs, bills, or vehicle expenses.

Be clear on how much rent you can afford. Paying more than 30 per cent of your income in rent is very high.

When you are prepared, contact your landlord or property manager to ask for a rent reduction.

For examples of rent reduction letters, go to Tenants Victoria.

To generate a letter based on your situation, go to Justice Connect’s Dear Landlord tool.

2. How do I negotiate a rent reduction?

Provide evidence to help the landlord understand your request - for example, a job termination letter or application for Centrelink payments.

Consider your landlord’s situation too. Either agree to the landlord’s proposed rent or make a reasonable offer.

The agreement is only about rent, you still have all your other rights under your lease.

The agreement must include:

  • tenant’s names
  • landlord’s names
  • property address
  • usual rent amount
  • new agreed rent amount
  • agreement expiry date.

If you do not have template for agreements, you can use our Temporary rent reduction agreement (Word, 28KB).

When you have reached an agreement, register it with us.

3. What if we can’t agree?

If you cannot agree, call us on 1300 55 81 81 between 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (except public holidays). If you speak a language other than English, contact the National Translating & Interpreting Service on 131 450. Ask to be put through to Consumer Affairs Victoria.

We will work with you and the landlord to help reach an agreement. We will use the information you provide to find an outcome that is fair for everyone.