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What we need to help struggling renters

We know from yesterday’s announcement that changes to tenancy laws will be made in the next couple of weeks. We’ve been doing a bit of work behind the scenes to work out how we can protect renters from negative impacts of COVID-19. As a community, we’re all going to have to work together, with the impacts shared amongst all the players, renters and landlords alike.  

The issue prominent in the media has been protecting all renters (including residents of boarding housing and caravan parks) from forced evictions and homelessness. This has to be a key focus during what is a public health crisis, and needs to go beyond evictions due to economic hardship. However, we’ve also been lobbying governments to:

  • ensure that rents are reduced not just deferred, renters shouldn’t end up with crippling debts when we reach recovery. That would just lead to evictions and homelessness down the track. 
  • develop a reduced rent model which is affordable and used to determine unresolved rent reduction disputes
  • protect everyone from avoidable entries, and set out reciprocal questions when an entry can’t be avoided e.g. for repairs, to keep everyone safe and healthy
  • extend entry time frames from 24 hours’ notice to 48 hours so that any arising issue can be managed prior.
  • limit the amount of personal information a renter can be asked when seeking a rent reduction (we’ve seen some very intrusive forms!)

We agree there needs to be limited exceptions to the eviction moratorium, around issues of damage and injury, while still ensuring that no one is evicted into homelessness.

It’s a shame that the Prime Minister didn’t see fit to set out the rules for residential rent reductions like he did for commercial tenancies. We think costs need to be pushed downwards for both tenants and landlords. the more that landlords’ overheads are reduced, the better position they’re in to reduce rents. Those things are in the control of the federal government. 

We’ll keep you updated as soon as we hear anything more from the state government on changes to tenancy laws.