Western Australia has extended the state’s emergency tenancy laws banning rent increases and evictions for a further six months amid the economic disruption brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The moratorium was due to end on 29 September but has been extended until 28 March 2021 in what the government said was a move to help “preserve stability and certainty in the rental market.”

In a statement, the government said the measure was aimed at helping renters in private and public housing, tenants in residential long-stay parks, boarders, and lodgers stay in their rental homes.

“Western Australia is entering a period of economic recovery, albeit with the ever-present threat of a second wave of infection,” said John Quigley, WA commerce minister. “Those who have been able to return to work are only just starting to recover and adding significant potential rental housing affordability and availability issues to their worries at this time would be an awful proposition.”

The moratorium also prevents landlords from evicting tenants who fail to pay rent due to financial hardship resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, Quigley said property owners reserved the right to terminate a lease if a tenant was not financially impacted by the coronavirus crisis.

“I want to stress, tenants who are not in COVID-19 financial hardship must still pay their rent, otherwise they face the prospect of eviction,” he said.

The extension also applies to commercial tenants, but the WA government has modified eligibility rules to include only renters who meet hardship thresholds that are consistent with the JobKeeper payment tests.

Under existing commercial tenancy measures, landlords are required to offer rent relief to businesses suffering a 30% reduction in turnover. 

The government will also continue to provide up to four weeks of rent relief to those who can prove they are experiencing financial hardship because of COVID-19.