RLC endorses Renting and Coronavirus Statement

RLC stands with Tenants' Union of NSW and 70+ other housing and community organisations and housing researchers calling on National Cabinet to support renters stay in their homes and out of debt during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Renting and Coronavirus Statement calls on National Cabinet to consider how the Evictions Moratoriums implemented across the country measured up to a set of basic minimum standards for protection.

Renting and Coronavirus Statment

We are a national community coalition made up of people and organisations who work with renters and research housing issues. We’re calling for further urgent action to support the huge number of people and families who face the prospect of losing their homes due to the economic impact of COVID19.

We welcomed the National Cabinet announcement on 29 March committing to a moratorium on evictions for six months for residential tenants who are unable to meet their rental payments. We also welcome the steps that various jurisdictions have taken to build on this. However, the response has been inconsistent across Australia, and no jurisdiction has gone far enough to provide adequate support for renters.

Frontline organisations have witnessed the severity of the impact of COVID19 on renters. Renters are typically in a worse financial position than homeowners: they were amongst the first hit by this crisis, and they will be amongst the last to recover. An inadequate response will leave many renters struggling with debts they cannot repay and, at best, delay evictions. The Commonwealth, State and Territory governments must offer more support for people who rent by preventing forced evictions and preventing rental debt.

Support packages for renters from Australian governments should be guided by two principles. Firstly, people who rent should be supported to remain in their homes during this crisis and the recovery period. Secondly, renters should be supported to stay out of debt due to unaffordable rental costs. The Code of Conduct for commercial tenancies is an indication of the nature and extent of intervention that is needed for residential tenancies.

Specifically, we are calling for a minimum standard of measures to protect residential tenants at this time. These measures are:

  1. Stop evictions for rental arrears or evictions where the tenant is not at fault, covering all tenants including occupants.
  2. Supporting renters to terminate a rental contract that is no longer viable and is causing hardship, without being burdened with unfair debts or penalties.
  3. A requirement for binding arbitration where tenants and landlords cannot reach agreement on a rent reduction. This arbitration should take into account the financial position of both tenants and lessors.
  4. A temporary freeze on any rent increases.
  5. Direct financial support for tenants who, after genuine rent reductions have been applied, would struggle to afford their rent.
  6. A requirement for banks and insurers to offer genuine relief to landlords who have reduced rent.
  7. As we navigate this crisis, all renters should be able to stay in their homes and be protected from debt. Australian governments have already stepped up to protect the health of our community. We call on you to step up now to protect the wellbeing of people who rent.

Sign the statement here