After the impact of Coronavirus forced his employment to cease, Alexander Richards and his 30-week-pregnant wife, Cassidy, were faced with severe financial stress.
Living in a three bedroom apartment on Colless Street in Penrith, their rental payments began mounting and before they knew it they were issued with an eviction notice – stating they must vacate by Monday, May 18.
Despite the 60-day moratorium on evictions announced as part of the response to Coronavirus, the couple were told they must vacate the premises, however could dispute the eviction through NSW Fair Trading if they wished.
“He immediately applied for the Job Seeker Payment and had all the documents to prove he’s been let go because of this but the landlord just doesn’t seem to care,” Ms Richards said.
The couple pay $450 per week in rent. Due to Ms Richards caring for their 21-month-old son, Elijah, and being heavily pregnant, she does not work.
The eviction notice was issued on Tuesday, April 28. To date, the couple have accumulated $1800 in rental arrears.
“The whole process is very confusing, it’s been really stressful,” Ms Richards said.
The Weekender contacted the real estate agency in charge of the rental, Argy Property. The company said it was following the government guidelines on tenant terminations, which advises the tenant must use NSW Fair Trading dispute services if the landlord does not offer a temporary rent arrangement.
Tenants’ Union CEO, Leo Patterson Ross, said the eviction must not proceed and the notice served is invalid until mid-June when the moratorium on evictions ends.
“If the landlord then wants to proceed with the eviction they will then need to serve a new notice and show that they have met the requirements – they have negotiated in good faith around the rent,” he said.
Fair Trading is talking with the couple.
“If tenants and landlords can’t resolve matters, Fair Trading’s dispute resolution services will be available to both parties and if they still can’t resolve matters, they can apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal to make orders,” a NSW Fair Trading spokesperson said.
Landlords who attempt to evict tenants without an order from the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal risk a $22,000 fine.
Tenants should seek advice from their local Tenants’ Advice and Advocacy Service.
A graduate of Western Sydney University, Nicola Barton is a news journalist with the Western Weekender, primarily covering crime and politics.