Many more residential tenants across South Australia who have suffered significant financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be able to access rent relief through a $1000 grant to their landlords, with the State Government expanding eligibility for the scheme.
In changes announced by Treasurer Rob Lucas, the scheme will be open to any residential tenant who can demonstrate one of the following, since March 30 this year:
- Loss of employment;
- Reduction in working hours of 20 per cent or more;
- Reduction in wages of 20 per cent or more;
- Operated as a sole trader business which was either suspended or experienced a reduction in turnover of 20 per cent or more
The previous requirement for applicants to be receiving either JobKeeper or JobSeeker payments has been removed, but they will still need to have less than $5,000 in savings and pay more than 30 per cent of their current income in rent.
Treasurer Rob Lucas said the expanded eligibility criteria – consistent with Victoria’s scheme – would ensure many more South Australians had access to rent relief, including, for example, casual workers who didn’t meet JobKeeper eligibility because they might have been in their job for less than a year.
“We know there are many South Australians doing it incredibly tough at the moment, through no fault of their own, and these $1000 residential relief grants will provide much-need cash support at a time when tenants need it most,” said Mr Lucas.
“By expanding the scheme, we hope to be able to help many more local tenants including, for example, casual workers and temporary visa holders, who otherwise wouldn’t be able to access the scheme because they don’t qualify for JobKeeper.
“We’re also making it easier by enabling landlords and their tenants to apply together for the grants (on behalf of the tenant).”
“The $1000 rent relief grants will be provided to landlords of eligible tenants, provided revised rental terms have been agreed that deliver rent relief of at least $1000.”
The scheme, which will continue to be administered by the Department of Human Services, will verify applicants’ information via up to 6 months’ worth of bank or income statements.
In further changes, the State Government will expand the Cost of Living Concession (COLC) $500 boost to eligible applicants over the age of 65 who meet all the criteria of JobSeeker (eg, they have lost their job, meet income test) but are on a Commonwealth pension, rather than JobSeeker benefit.
Already close to $11 million in COLC Boost payments have been made to nearly 22,000 South Australians.
To apply for rent relief grants: https://www.treasury.sa.gov.au/Growing-South-Australia/COVID-19
To apply for COLC boost payment: https://www.sa.gov.au/topics/care-and-support/concessions-and-grants/concessions/cost-of-living-concessions