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Tenants Impacted by COVID – 19

By Luke O'Kelly

If you have been impacted by COVID-19 and are concerned about difficulties in making rent payments and falling into arrears, please:

– Apply for financial assistance from Centrelink. This may take time as unfortunately the system is experiencing high volumes of new applications.
– Speak to energy providers for assistance and payment plans as is this may provide more immediate relief.
– Read the Australian Government Department of Social Services FAQ here.

COVID-19 Related Centerlink Support

On 22 March 2020, the Government announced it will provide a temporary Coronavirus Supplement of $550 a fortnight to new and existing income support recipients from 27 April 2020 for six months. People will receive their usual payment plus $550 each fortnight for the six month period. The Coronavirus Supplement will be provided to people receiving:

– JobSeeker Payment
– Sickness Allowance
– Youth Allowance for Jobseekers
– Parenting Payment Partnered
– Parenting Payment Single
– Partner Allowance
– Sickness Allowance
– Farm Household Allowance

Two Economic Support Payments

On 12 March 2020, the Government announced it will provide an Economic Support payment of $750 to approximately 6.6 million Social Security and Veterans’ income support recipients, Farm Household Allowance (FHA) recipients, Family Tax Benefit (FTB) recipients and holders of a Pensioner Concession Card, Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC) or Commonwealth Gold Card who were eligible on 12 March 2020.

On 22 March 2020, the Government announced it would extend the eligibility for the first Economic Support payment to people who were eligible for their payment or card between 12 March 2020 and 13 April 2020 (inclusive). The Government also announced it would provide a second Economic Support payment, also of $750 to people eligible for any of the payments or cards in the first round of payments on 10 July 2020 so long as they do not receive the Coronavirus Supplement with their payment.

Current income support recipients who cannot meet mutual obligation requirements due to isolation should call Services Australia and can be granted a Major Personal Crisis exemption, without having to provide evidence such as a medical certificate.

Students receiving Youth Allowance (student) or other study related payments who are in Aus- tralia but unable to attend studies due to Coronavirus would be taken to have a reasonable ex- cuse for not meeting study activity requirements for their payments. Individuals in this situation must contact Services Australia to advise them of the circumstances.

For more information and FAQs, please visit the Department of Social Services.

Early Access To Superannuation

The government is allowing individuals affected by COVID-19 to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in 2019–20 and a further $10,000 in 2020–21. Individuals will not need to pay tax on amounts released and the money they withdraw will not affect Centrelink or Veterans’ Affairs payments.

From mid-April eligible individuals will be able to apply online through myGov to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation before 1 July 2020. They will also be able to access up to a fur- ther $10,000 from 1 July 2020 until 24 September 2020.

For eligibility requirements and information to apply, visit the ATO website. link

Utility Providers

Australians who are having difficulty paying their energy bills should get in touch with their retail- er and seek the protection they are legally entitled to. Energy retailers are obliged to implement new customer hardship policies that provide clearer and better assistance to customers experiencing financial difficulty. The Australian Energy Regulator’s (AER) Customer Hardship Policy Guideline now requires retailers to ensure hardship programs are easily accessible to customers and that standard statements explaining how they will help customers are included in their policies.

Queensland

Queensland Government Home Energy Emergency Assistance Scheme (HEEAS) link

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