Queensland's peak tenant advisory group, Tenants Queensland, wants the Queensland Government to extend its ban on rental evictions during COVID-19.
The six-month moratorium on rental evictions, announced by the Federal Government to be handled on a state-by-state basis in late March, is set to end in most states at the end of September.
Tenants Queensland wants this deadline extended by another three months, out of fears there will be a surge in homelessness once landlords are able to evict tenants once again.
Tenants Queensland CEO Penny Carr said a ban on evictions was necessary at least until the end of 2020, with a preferred tapering of protections extended into 2021 for those affected by COVID-related hardship.
“Increasingly Queensland renters have been contacting our service expressing concerns about potential homelessness and anxiety for the debt they have accrued while renting during the pandemic,” Ms Carr said.
“Many are desperately worried they will lose their homes due to unresolved negotiations on rent reductions and because they cannot rely on the goodwill of their landlord.
“With no end in sight to the pandemic, we believe it is premature of the Government to end the evictions moratorium with unemployment still so high and incomes reduced.”
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So far, only Victoria has actually extended its eviction moratorium, announcing in August it would be moving its deadline to the end of the year following the re-introduction of lockdowns.
"Evictions continue to be banned for both residential and commercial tenancies, except under certain circumstances, until 31 December 2020. Rental increases continue to be banned for the same period," Consumer Affairs Victoria said in its announcement.
"Nobody should be worried about losing a roof over their head right now, particularly given the circumstances around social distancing," Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas said.
No other state is yet to make any changes to the existing rules, and Ms Carr believes the current exit from tenancy protections will lead to a significant number of renters facing eviction.
“We believe a softer exit will be fairer in order to maximise opportunities for renters to remain housed beyond the end of the evictions moratorium," she said.
Tenants Queensland has also expressed concern over:
- Rent increases returning to the 'starting rent', i.e the rent they were initially on before negotiating any rent reduction;
- Income dropping among a large number of renters due to the changing rates of JobKeeper and JobSeeker; and
- Rents owed during the 'protection period' coming due.
Rental affordability to plummet after JobSeeker, JobKeeper 2.0
After research this week found the reduction in COVID-19 supplement payments in September would push over 700,000 people back into poverty, new research shows the effect changing the rates will have on rental affordability.
A special mid-year Rental Affordability Snapshot from Anglicare found returning to the old rate of Newstart ($40 per day) would have "a dire effect on rental affordability".
The Snapshot Update surveyed almost 77,000 rental listings across Australia in August, and discovered that on the new JobSeeker payment (double the previous rate), 1% of rentals across Australia are deemed "affordable".
Cutting the JobSeeker rate by $150 in September would make just 0.2% of rental properties affordable - that's just 168 rentals nationwide.
By cutting back to the old rate in December, just 13 properties (0%) would be affordable.
Anglicare Australia Executive Director Kasy Chambers said with many renters out of work, the new JobSeeker rate is the only thing keeping a roof over many Australians' heads.
“For people on the lowest incomes, rentals are even less affordable than they were back in March,” Ms Chambers said.
“Most of the price drops are at the higher end of the market. At the same time, more and more people are competing for cheap housing.
"That’s squeezing people out of the market. With 1.6 million people locked out of work, the new rate of JobSeeker is the only thing keeping them afloat."
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*Data accurate as at 01 October 2020. Rates based on a savings balance of $10,000. Introductory bonus interest rate products not included. Sorted by total interest rates. Refer to providers' websites for bonus rate conditions.
In Brisbane, only 258 (4%) properties in Greater Brisbane would be affordable for households on the old Newstart rate, while 6% of Brisbane households on the new rate are finding appropriate rental properties.
Ms Chambers has joined the growing list of people to say the JobSeeker rate must be increased for good.
“Rent deferrals and eviction moratoriums are ending soon, and some people are in arrears for thousands of dollars. Many are facing cuts to JobSeeker at the same time. This is a ticking time bomb," she said.
“We must raise the rate of these payments for good.
"If the Government goes ahead with planned cuts – and if age and disability pensioners are left out – renters will be pushed deeper into poverty and homelessness."
The entire market was not considered in selecting the above products. Rather, a cut-down portion of the market has been considered which includes retail products from at least the big four banks, the top 10 customer-owned institutions and Australia’s larger non-banks:
- The big four banks are: ANZ, CBA, NAB and Westpac
- The top 10 customer-owned Institutions are the ten largest mutual banks, credit unions and building societies in Australia, ranked by assets under management in November 2019. They are (in descending order): Credit Union Australia, Newcastle Permanent, Heritage Bank, Peoples’ Choice Credit Union, Teachers Mutual Bank, Greater Bank, IMB Bank, Beyond Bank, Bank Australia and P&N Bank.
- The larger non-bank lenders are those who (in 2020) has more than $9 billion in Australian funded loans and advances. These groups are: Resimac, Pepper, Liberty and Firstmac.
Some providers' products may not be available in all states. To be considered, the product and rate must be clearly published on the product provider's web site.
In the interests of full disclosure, Savings.com.au, Performance Drive and Loans.com.au are part of the Firstmac Group. To read about how Savings.com.au manages potential conflicts of interest, along with how we get paid, please click through onto the web site links.
*The Comparison rate is based on a $150,000 loan over 25 years. Warning: this comparison rate is true only for this example and may not include all fees and charges. Different terms, fees or other loan amounts might result in a different comparison rate.
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