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FAQs - Rent arrears payment order (repayment plans)

How Rent Arrears Payment Orders work

Q:  How will the Order work in practice?

A tenant who is behind in their rent can apply to the Residential Tenancy Commissioner for a Rent Arrears Payment Order. The form is available online and takes about 30 minutes to complete. If required, a hardcopy of the form can be printed out or sent to you which you can post back to:

Residential Tenancy Commissioner
PO Box 56
ROSNY PARK TAS 7018

When we receive the application for a rent arrears payment plan, we will notify the landlord or agent of the property.

To make an Order, the Commissioner must be satisfied that the tenant:

  • is in rent arrears for rent that was payable during COVID-19
  • has experienced financial hardship as a result of COVID-19, and
  • has the financial capacity to follow the Order.

The Rent Arrears Payment Order will show the total amount of rent owing and the plan for repayments.

We will notify all parties within three days of making an Order. The Order will take effect seven days after the parties are notified. During this period, either party can appeal the Order to the Magistrates Court of Tasmania.

If a tenant follows the repayment order, they cannot be given a Notice to Vacate for arrears that is subject to the Order.

Issuing an Order

Q: Does the Residential Tenancy Commissioner have to issue an Order?

No – an Order will not be issued if the Commissioner is not satisfied the application is:

  • relating to rent arrears that are from before or after the COVID-19 emergency period
  • the tenant has not experienced financial hardship as a result of COVID-19, or
  • the tenant cannot show they have financial capacity to follow with the Order.

Q:  Can a Rent Arrears Payment Order be issued for rent that was in arrears before the emergency period?

A payment order can only be issued for arrears related to rent that was due during the COVID-19 emergency period. The tenant must have experienced financial hardship as a result of COVID-19.

Tenants and Orders

Q:  What evidence can a tenant provide to show they have capacity to follow an Order?

A tenant needs to show that they have the ability to repay their outstanding rent. They can do this by providing evidence including:

  • A copy of the current lease or tenancy agreement
  • A repayment agreement signed by the landlord and all tenants (if applicable)
  • Current rent receipts showing the total of the rent outstanding
  • Proof of current household income such as current pay slips or letter from an employer
  • Proof of financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 (six months of bank statements).
  • Information about the household income (which industry do the applicants work in, the nature of work i.e. contract, casual)
  • Details of other financial support, such as support from family members, or drawing on superannuation.

If a tenant’s rent and the rent arrears make up an unmanageable percentage of household income, we may need extra information to support an application. This information may include:

  • advice from a financial counsellor
  • other supporting evidence/statements about how household expenses are shared
  • information on future work or income.

Examples could include:

  • the tenant may pay all the rent while their partner pays all the other household bills
  • the tenant has found a co-tenant who will move in from next week and start paying rent, or
  • the tenant has a new contract for work starting in the new year which will improve their financial position.

You can use the repayment calculator provided on our webpage at www.cbos.tas.gov.au to find out the percentage of household income spent on rent.

Q: What happens if the tenant does not follow a Rent Arrears Payment Order?

If a tenant does not follow the Order issued by the Commissioner, they will not be protected from eviction due to the rent arrears.  The landlord can recover the rent owed through making a claim against the bond or by pursuing a claim through the courts.

Landlord doesn't want an Order issued

Q: Can a Rent Arrears Payment Order be made if the landlord doesn’t want one?

When an application is received, the Commissioner will notify the landlord or agent.  This gives the Commissioner an opportunity to hear the landlord’s views, before making an Order.

A payment order can be issued without the landlord’s agreement, if the Commissioner is satisfied that a tenant can meet the terms of the Order. If a landlord is unhappy with an Order they do have the right to appeal the Order to the Court within seven days. Visit Magistrates Court of Tasmania.

Q: What can landlords do if they have tenants who have stopped paying rent but were not affected by COVID-19?

The Commissioner must be satisfied that the applicant has experienced financial hardship as a result of COVID-19. The Commissioner will not make a payment order for a tenant who is behind in their rent which is not due to COVID-19 and the tenant will not be protected from eviction. Landlords will then be able to recover the rent in the usual way, through the bond or the courts.

Repayment plan timeframes

Q: Will there be a maximum time period or weekly payment for a Rent Arrears Payment Order?

No - the Commissioner will ensure that an Order is fair and reasonable. There will be discretion given to individual circumstances of the application.

Orders, leases and Notices to Vacate

Q: What if a Notice to Vacate is due to take effect before a Rent Arrears Payment Order is issued?

A tenancy does not end until vacant possession is provided by the tenant to the landlord. A tenant who has applied for a Rent Arrears Payment Order should notify the landlord and continue to pay rent. If an Order is issued, a Notice to Vacate for arrears relating to that Order will have no effect.

Q: What happens if a lease ends before the Rent Arrears Payment Order has been paid in total?

If a lease ends before a payment order has been paid in total, the tenant is required to pay any outstanding amounts to the landlord.

General Repairs

Q: When will the need for general repairs and maintenance be reinstated?

Owners will be required to undertake general repairs and maintenance again, when the emergency period ends. This is currently due to take place on 31 January 2021.

Extension of current protections

Q: Will the Government further extend the emergency period?

The Tasmanian Government had already extended the emergency period until 31 January 2021. The protections have made it possible for many people to stay in their homes when the virus was at its worst.

It is important that we now take steps to enable residential tenancy laws to return to normal. New laws are being introduced to help with this process. This includes providing a pathway for tenants to repay their overdue rent at the end of the emergency period.

Q: What happens if an emergency period is needed again?

The laws allow the Minister to declare another emergency period if they are of the opinion it is necessary. This will happen if the Minister believes there will be, or is likely to be, significant, widespread hardship to tenants as a result of COVID-19.

Other matters

Q: What steps will the Government take to communicate the changes to tenants and landlords?

The Office of the Residential Tenancy Commissioner will ensure that both tenants and landlords are aware of the changes. This will be done through advertising, outreach to community organisations and direct communications.

Updated: 24 Nov 2020