The state will legislate a temporary ban on evictions, pause rental increases for six months and provide land tax relief for landlords and rent relief for tenants, in line with the decision made by the national cabinet last week.
In announcing the $500 million package on Wednesday, Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed emergency legislation will be put into the Parliament next Thursday.
The package consists of $420 million in land tax relief and an $80 million rental assistance fund for renters facing hardship due to the coronavirus.
Under the rules, if a landlord provides tenants impacted by the coronavirus with rent relief, they will be eligible for a 25 per cent discount on their land tax, while any remaining land tax can be deferred until March 2021.
Additionally, evictions will be banned for residential tenancies for six months, except in some circumstances. The ban will also extend to the non-payment of rent for commercial tenancies involving small and medium-sized businesses.
Rental increases will also be banned for commercial and residential properties for the same period.
The state government also confirmed it will urgently ensure through legislation that eligible small and medium-sized businesses can be granted rental waivers or deferrals.
Businesses will be eligible for these measures if they have an annual turnover under $50 million per year and have experienced more than a 30 per cent reduction in turnover due to the coronavirus.
The government will also create an $80 million rental assistance fund for renters facing hardship. To be eligible, renters will need to have registered their revised agreement with Consumer Affairs Victoria or gone through mediation, have less than $5,000 in savings and still be paying at least 30 per cent of their income in rent.
“These are unprecedented measures, but we are facing an unprecedented crisis. With this support, we’ll help tenants cover the rent and keep a roof over their head,” said Minister for Consumer Affairs Marlene Kairouz.
As agreed by the national cabinet, these new measures will come into effect from 29 March for a period of six months.
Recognising the extent of the crisis and the economic consequences of stage 3 restriction, the Premier called for partnerships to be formed between tenants and landlords.
“More than ever, we need to be working in partnership. Landlords working with tenants. Tenants working with landlords. And government willing to help those most in need,” Mr Andrews said.
Those who struggle to strike a deal over rent reductions will be given access to a fast-tracked dispute resolution service, with Consumer Affairs Victoria or the Victorian Small Business Commission mediating to ensure fair agreements are reached.
The New South Wales and Queensland governments have both also made announcements in relation to land tax.
Earlier this week, the New South Wales Treasurer announced a $440 million land tax relief package, providing relief for commercial tenants that have experienced financial distress.
The Queensland government has also announced a $400 million land tax relief to property owners, provided they pass on the concession to tenants. The package includes a three-month rebate of land tax for 2019–20, followed by a three-month deferral of land tax for 2020–21.