Govt policy clouds future of residential tenancies

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One of Western Australia’s biggest residential property managers has called for more clarity around how tenants impacted by COVID-19 renegotiate rental agreements and how landlords can continue to service debt under the federal government’s moratorium on evictions.

Rental Management Australia chief executive Andrew Graham, who manages a rent roll of more than 3,500 properties in WA, Queensland and Victoria, said relief was desperately needed not only by renters, but also by landlords willing to support their tenants.

Mr Graham said issues that needed to be addressed included the ability for landlords to make mortgage payments if they grant a rent-free period or an abatement to their tenants, the ability to continue to maintain properties, and the prospect of continuing to make other statutory payments.

On the tenant side, Mr Graham said more clarity was particularly needed over a tenant’s obligations in the forms of paying additional rent or accepting an extended lease period once the COVID-19 crisis passes.

“The impact of this pandemic will be felt by many, if not most people, and that includes tenants and the hundreds of thousands of hardworking Australians who own investment properties,” Mr Graham told Business News

“We haven’t yet heard any

Government urged to widen wage subsidy criteria

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Concerns have been raised that eligibility criteria for the federal government’s $130 billion bailout plan for business is too restrictive and many businesses with spiralling revenue projections could miss out; and with parliament in recess, first payments are unlikely to be available until May at the earliest.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison yesterday announced an unprecedented stimulus package for businesses and not-for-profit operators affected by COVID-19, with wage subsidies of up to $1,500 a fortnight a centrepiece of the plan.

However, criteria that requires businesses to demonstrate that they have already experienced a 30 per cent drop in revenue to be eligible has been criticised for being too restrictive.

RSM director Tracey Dunn described the stimulus as fantastic and unprecedented, but told Business News the Treasury had not yet defined the test parameters around determining reductions in revenue, and how revenue would be defined.

Ms Dunn said information available from Treasury indicated the reduction in revenue will be measured after March 1, and must be relative to a comparative period from a year ago.

“The information available also indicates the employer must have already experienced a reduction in revenue of 30 per cent or more,” she said. 

“This may be problematic

Lotterywest sets up virus-rescue fund

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The state government has unveiled $184 million in initiatives to boost crisis support and provide rent relief for small businesses and not-for-profit groups impacted by COVID-19, while the City of Perth has announced a rent-free period for tenants in city-owned buildings.

The announcements come as Western Australia’s confirmed COVID-19 cases grew by 44, bringing the state’s total to 355 infections.

Lotterywest today unveiled a $159 million COVID-19 Relief Fund, of which $59 million will be immediately available to eligible not for profits and community organisations.

The initial emergency support will cover costs related to demand for critical needs such as food, clothing and shelter.

The funding will also provide financial relief for not-for-profit sports, arts and community organisations experiencing hardship, a result of events cancelled due to coronavirus-related restrictions.

“From now on, every profit Lotterywest makes from jackpots, draws and tickets excluding statutory grants will go directly into a newly created COVID-19 Relief Fund,” Premier Mark McGowan said.

The premier also announced today that not-for-profit groups and small businesses in government-owned properties would not have to pay rent for six months under the latest stimulus response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr McGowan said $25 million had been allocated to the

Saracen keeps FY20 guidance

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Saracen Mineral Holdings has maintained its full-year production guidance, saying COVID-19 measures would have minimal impact on March quarter production, in contrast to yesterday’s update from fellow gold miner Northern Star Resources.…

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