Victorian tenants struggling to pay rent due to the coronavirus will be temporarily protected from eviction under a $500 million rent relief package.
Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Wednesday a six-month ban on evictions and rent increases for both commercial and residential tenants, as well as tax relief for landlords.
“We will support the most vulnerable, but also make sure that landlords and tenants are getting the benefit of these arrangements,” he told reporters.
About $420 million will go towards land tax relief, while an $80 million fund will be set up for renters facing hardship due to the virus.
Eligible renters will need to have registered their revised agreement with Consumer Affairs or gone through mediation, have less than $5000 in savings and be paying at least 30 per cent of their income in rent.
Small businesses with an annual turnover of under $50 million that have been hit with 30 per cent or more in revenue reduction because of coronavirus can also be granted rental waivers or deferrals.
The new measures will be backdated to March 29 for six months, as agreed by the national cabinet.
State parliament will sit next week to pass urgent bills relating to the coronavirus.
A further eight people tested positive to COVID-19 overnight, bringing the state’s total to 1299.
No new deaths were recorded and the state’s virus toll stands at 14.
There are 21 people in hospital and 18 are in intensive care.
It follows slow growth in new cases over the Easter weekend, though authorities are warning against complacency or lifting strict social distancing rules too early.
“These numbers are the product of people doing the right thing. The alternative, of course, is not something we want visited upon our state,” Mr Andrews said.
Under Victoria’s stage three restrictions, people can leave their homes to shop for food and essential items, medical care or caregiving, work, or education and exercise.
Individuals can be fined $1652 if they leave home for non-essential reasons and businesses face a $9913 fine if caught in the wrong.
More than 21,000 spot checks have been conducted since March 21.
Police did more than 800 checks in the past 24 hours and issued some 52 fines, including to six people playing tennis at a closed tennis court at Maribyrnong on Tuesday.
Eight young people “socialising” at a closed school and 10 at a skate park in Greater Dandenong were also fined.
Victoria Police has vowed to review every lockdown-related fine for non-compliance of the chief health officer’s directive to stay home.
Meanwhile, students will mostly be at home from Wednesday after the state government said those who can study at home, must do so.
Those students whose parents are on the frontline in the fight against COVID-19 or have to go to work, will go to school.
But those who attend school will still learn remotely, under supervision.
Vulnerable children are also allowed to go to school.