COVID-19 Emergency Act extension passes State Parliament

The Marshall Government’sCOVID-19 Emergency Response Act has been extended to until the 6thof February 2021, or 28 days after the COVID-19 Emergency Direction expires whichever comes first after a vote in State Parliament last night.

The legislation is another component of the State Government’s strong plan to deal with both the health and economic impacts of COVID-19,” said Attorney-General Vickie Chapman.The legislation restricts rent increases for tenants and the ability of landlords to terminate lease agreements.

“It’s telling that the Labor Party sought to have these protections cut by Christmas despite the ongoing impact of the pandemic on families, businesses and the wider community. Provisions to continue under the legislation include:

Those involving commercial leases;

Restrictions on rent increases, as well as breaches and terminations of tenancy agreements involving financial hardship due to the coronavirus for residential tenancies, residential parks and supported residential facilities;

The use of ‘virtual’ visits by the Community Visitor;

Alternative methods of signing and witnessing documents.

“We have ended the provisions covering water and sewerage charges for sporting clubs, given the establishment of a grants scheme to support those clubs,” saidAttorney-General Chapman.

“Also, to ensure that measures aimed at protecting residential tenants are not exploited, we have narrowed the focus of the Act so that the prohibition on rental increases only applies if the tenant is experiencing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These and other provisions that remain in effect will help ensure support for business and those vulnerable members of our community.

“The legislation provides for a seamless transition of Directions in the event that the Emergency Management Committee determines that the COVID-19 pandemic is more appropriately managed as a public health matter as opposed to an emergency response.