Qld Grants for Struggling Renters, More to be Done

Anxiety about COVID-19 is rising throughout our community and renters are feeling increasingly vulnerable to its impacts. We’re all worried about our loved ones, our society, our health, safety and immediate security.

To protect our communities during the COVID-19 crisis, Tenants Queensland has been working with a coalition of around 100 other organisations. Together we’ve been pushing for a ban (moratorium) on evictions, and over the last two weeks, thousands of Queenslanders sent emails to MPs and signed petitions. We then delivered our #NoEvictionsCovid19 petition to the Prime Minister with more than 10,000 signatures

Last weekend, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced ‘a six-month moratorium on evictions’.

In the evening of April 1 Queensland’s Deputy Premier said that (see at 16.25):

  • As per the Prime Minister’s announcement every jurisdiction in Australia will prevent evictions of people who cannot make rent because they’ve lost their job due to Corona Virus or the impacts either directly or indirectly of Corona Virus.
  • Prevention of these evictions in Queensland will be backdated to the day the PM announced this at National Cabinet, March 29.
  • A grants system has been established for people in the private rental market who lost their job, who won’t get Centrelink support until at least April 27 and who can’t make rent. The Qld government will provide up to $500 per week for four weeks (and paid to the landlord) to help you with your rent payment while waiting for income support.  Information can be found here  You can call 13 426 843 for further information.
  • The Qld government understands that the prohibition on eviction is for tenants who genuinely lost their jobs as a result of Corona Virus. For the things that we ordinarily see tenancies ended for – if tenants significantly damage the property or if the landlord needs to move in because of financial distress – these will still occur. This is not a blanket prohibition. There is a balanced, common sense approach here.

Tenants Queensland is currently talking to the State government to help shape these temporary reforms and will update you as soon as we know anything further. We think the reforms need to go further.

As a public health crisis we must protect people from unnecessary movement in the community. Our homes are the first line of defense in following hygiene protocols and protecting ourselves – and others – from becoming sick. 

All evictions must be temporarily stopped.

While the PM and Qld Deputy Premier’s announcements are welcomed, we’re hopeful of achieving more. We want to make sure all renters, whether they rent in a caravan park, boarding house or a unit, are protected from eviction. We need everyone to be safe. We don’t want to see anyone evicted (with exceptions for violence or damage) and certainly not without any reason using a without-ground eviction. The health of all Queenslanders has to be the main priority right now.

Sharing the burden and reducing costs.

COVID-19 is a community crisis, need to share the burden it’s creating and give everyone an equal chance to recover in the future. We need to work together.

Median rents in Australia are $400 per week, and in this crisis, renters need money for other household bills and healthcare costs. 

Push everyone’s costs down

While some landlords have already supported renters with rent reductions, many haven’t. We’ve seen multiple examples of agents telling their rent-roll they will face eviction if they don’t pay their full rent, putting people under enormous pressure. We need governments to step in. 

Landlords need to meet their financial obligations, the biggest being mortgage repayments. Many can already access mortgage relief by making a hardship request. Better still, the Federal government could initiate broad mortgage relief to drive the costs down for everyone. 

Landlords who don’t have a mortgage but rely on rental income should have access to income support payment like everyone else.  

The Federal government could also introduce a temporary interest waiver for residential investors, mitigating one of the other issues being raised as a barrier to reducing rent. If landlords were protected from mortgage and interest impacts, they’d be able to accept reduced rents. It’s a solution that shares the burden, pushing costs down and allowing the government stimulus monies to support the economy.

Reduce Rent

Renters must be protected from crippling rent arrears debt. If rent is only deferred during the crisis rather than reduced, many renters will carry the forward crippling debt and live in poverty for years to come. About 30% of renters don’t have $500 saved for an emergency, and that’s before COVID hit. Imagine what situation they will be in without rent relief.  

Increasing calls from you!

Our phone advice service is receiving an increasing number of COVID-related calls, the majority from renters who have already or may soon lose their jobs. People are struggling to pay rent and calling to get advice on the best solution. Other issues relate to proposed entries where tenants are self-isolating or have compromised immune systems.  

Has your ability to pay your rent been impacted by COVID-19? 

It’s an anxious time for all. We hope that yesterday’s announcement helps you in the immediate.  We will push to achieve further protections.

If you’re already in a problematic situation, communication is essential. Get in touch with your agent or landlord, try to negotiate, follow up any verbal communications in writing and pay what you can. You can also call our advice hotline on 1300 744 263. It’s busy, so please keep trying if you don’t get through the first time.

We’ll keep you up to date with additional changes. Stay safe and be kind to each other.

Previous post:

Next post: