Western Australia will extend COVID-19 emergency laws preventing residential and commercial tenants from eviction for a further six months.
The moratoriums had been due to end on September 29 but will be extended until March 28, 2021.
Perth’s rental market has tightened significantly during the pandemic.
According to the Real Estate Institute of WA (REIWA), just 3132 properties were listed for rent in the week ending September 6 – down 53 per cent from a year ago.
REIWA has previously called for the emergency laws to end as scheduled, saying they were not fair on landlords given many tenants were unaffected by the pandemic.
But welfare groups feared there would be an enormous increase in housing stress once evictions resumed.
Tenancy WA executive director Carmen Acosta last month urged the government to extend the moratorium, saying her organisation had been swamped by anxious tenants.
More than 14,000 people remain on the public housing waitlist.
Commerce Minister John Quigley says extending the moratoriums will protect WA renters and landlords and help stabilise the market.
“Low vacancy rates for rental properties have, and will continue to force rents to rise, and this together with the current unemployment rate, as well as changes to JobKeeper, means families may find themselves in financial hardship,” he said on Thursday.
“Those who have been able to return to work are only just starting to recover. To add difficulties in finding rental accommodation or not being able to afford rent to their worries would be an awful proposition.”
The government will introduce a new hotline for landlords that will offer specialist assistance for coronavirus-related tenancy issues.
Evictions will still be allowed under limited circumstances, including where a tenant is seriously damaging the property or causing injury to neighbours.
Small Business Minister Paul Papalia said the extension of the commercial tenancy laws acknowledged that many businesses were still doing it tough.
“Extending the emergency period will assist these tenants to negotiate further rent relief with their landlords to provide additional breathing space as the WA economy continues to rebound,” he said.