Sydney landlords who drop rents for tenants hard hit by the pandemic will be able to access up to another $1500 in financial support amid the city’s ongoing lockdown.

Landlords who negotiate a rent discount with impacted tenants – those who have lost at least 25 per cent of their income in lockdown – will be able to access up to a total of $3000 in financial support, or a reduction on their land tax, with the state government’s Residential Tenancy Support package extended for another month.

Tenants are also still protected by a 60-day eviction moratorium until September 11, which was announced with the initial $1500 support payment last month.

The extension of the support package comes after Sydney entered its eighth week in lockdown and during the first week of a state-wide lockdown for NSW.

Earlier on Monday, it was announced that NSW had recorded its highest number of COVID-19 cases in a 24-hour period, with 478 new cases and seven deaths.

Landlords can now access support for rent reductions granted over the two months from July 14, with financial support capped at the rent reduction that is passed onto the tenants, or $3000, whichever is lower.

Alternatively,  landlords also have the option to apply for the COVID-19 land tax benefit, which is an offset of the land tax liability equal to the rent reduction granted. Tenants’ Union of New South Wales chief executive Leo Patterson Ross welcomed the extension of the financial support, saying it was critical as lockdown continued.

“We knew people were going to need that extra support. It has been useful, we didn’t have it last year, and it’s made a big difference to tenants [by] reducing the fear of eviction in the short term,” Mr Patterson Ross said.

“The outstanding issue is that people will potentially be looking at accruing debt without this payment.”

The only weakness with the payments was that the landlords weren’t necessarily obliged to apply for it even if they had an eligible tenant, Mr Patterson Ross said. There had also been a few isolated incidents, he added, of landlords trying to get out of passing on the full reduction claimed to tenants.

He also expressed concern that evictions not related to rental arrears in lockdown were still going ahead and stressed an extension of the eviction moratorium and further support could be needed as lockdown continued.

The extension was also welcomed by Emily Sim, Ray White’s chief executive of property management, who said the funds and land tax waiver helped landlords to offer rent relief.

“This is great news for renters and landlords in NSW because we are in a place now where there is no finish line in sight. The government hasn’t named a date, so without a finish line date, it’s good news to have the support extended.”

Ms Sim said greater support for landlords this lockdown – and more clarity around the eligibility requirements for rent relief – had made it easier and quicker for landlords to offer rent deductions than last year.

While it was too early to say how many tenants had sought support, Ms Sim said, about 10 per cent of tenants and landlords had been affected in the previous lockdown.

She noted most landlords had responded positively to requests for rent relief and added Ray White was encouraging landlords not to proceed with any scheduled rent rises in lockdown.

Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation Kevin Anderson said it was vital to keep a roof over the heads of those who may be suffering financial hardship at this difficult time.

“We have always encouraged landlords and tenants to work together to negotiate on rental agreements, and the NSW Government has now made that conversation easier by supporting landlords so they can reduce rent for their tenants,” Mr Anderson said.

Landlords who have already applied for the support package can make an additional application, and those who are yet to apply will be able to make one application for the total amount of rent waived, up to $1500 a month.

Landlords can make separate claims for each premise they own and cannot ask tenants to repay the reduced amount of rent that has been paid to them under the Residential Tenancy Support Payment or land tax benefit.

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