Renters reeling in COVID crisis
Calls are mounting for state and federal governments to provide more support for residential tenants, as a new survey showed nearly 60 per cent of renters had experienced reductions in income during the COVID-19 crisis.
A survey of 1,600 renters by leasing website Rent.com.au laid bare the impacts on tenants in the residential property market, with 59 per cent of respondents saying they had stopped working or had their hours reduced.
The survey showed 33 per cent of respondents had stopped working completely, with 22 per cent saying their ability to pay their rent had been severely affected.
Around two thirds of renters said they don’t feel confident to seek support from their property manager or landlord, while 35 per cent of tenants said they had requested a rent reduction or a deferral.
Around 50 per cent of those that have asked their landlords or property managers for financial assistance reported they had been knocked back.
Rent.com.au chief executive Greg Bader said the findings illustrated the wide-ranging impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on hospitality, tourism and retail businesses, which employ the biggest proportion of renters of any market segment.
“Even though state and federal governments moved relatively quickly to support tenants, there is still a level of confusion and uncertainty in the renting market in terms of process and responsibilities,” Mr Bader said.
“Over half of the respondents would like to see more support for renters from our leaders and just 21 per cent believe the response so far has been enough.”
Mr Bader said while the federal government-mandated moratorium on evictions and rent deferrals provided some comfort, there was increasing concern that the financial difficulties were being pushed into the future.
“We hope to see the industry and government respond in innovative ways to support renters and the industry at large,” he said.
Mr Bader said it was crucial for tenants and landlords alike to communicate closely as Australia emerges from the crisis.
“Open and honest communication is the key and can only be an advantage for all parties as we prepare for the months ahead,” he said.
“Obviously every case is different and the renter will generally be required to demonstrate any impact on their income or affordability.
“Property managers and landlords are also affected by the crisis and all of us are navigating new ground.
“So once again, open communication is important, with both parties needing to be empathic and understanding of each others’ situation.”