The NSW Government has announced a $440 million rental support package to ease the financial burden of coronavirus (COVID-19) on tenants, businesses, and landlords, along with a six-month moratorium on residential evictions sparked by mounting rental arrears.

Nine News reports the state will move to pause the eviction of any tenant who has lost upwards of 25% of their income due to COVID-19, and will not accept new applications for forced evictions for the next 60 days.

Instead, landlords will be compelled to enter good faith negotiations with households in financial distress because of the virus. The goal: helping landlords to compromise, rather than turfing people out during a pandemic.

But the relief funds won’t go directly to tenants. Instead, landlords who tee up new rental agreements with their tenants will either have an equivalent portion of their land tax waived, or will receive a 25% rebate on the land tax they’d usually pay.

“The reality is the more that a landlord looks after their tenant, and the more that a tenant works with their landlord, the better off that both will be as we move through this pandemic,” Treasurer Dom Perrottet said this afternoon.

Renters will still build up rental arrears during the six-month period, but won’t receive black marks on their rental histories.

That scheme will cost $220 million, with the remaining funds aimed at commercial renters whose businesses have been whacked by COVID-19 shutdowns.

The announcement has been praised by the Tenants Union of NSW, with Chief Executive Leo Patterson Ross calling it “an important announcement which gives people greater certainty about their living situation and their ability to stay home during the COVID-19 period.

“Implementing a process to focus negotiations before eviction can occur will avoid some of the issues people have been facing and give us all breathing space.”

But Patterson Ross said the scheme must be assessed in further detail to ensure tenants are getting a fair shake.

The move comes after the Federal Government announced its own nationwide moratorium on rental evictions, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison urging landlords and tenants to come together to suss things out during the crisis.

Image: Joel Carrett / AAP Image