Support renters to keep a roof over their head in these times of crisis

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.[1]
  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.

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.


Organisational signatories

ANUSA

Bidwill Uniting

Care Financial Counselling Services

PARSA

NTCOSS

Switchboard Victoria

ACT Shelter

ACOSS

South Eastern Community Connect

Kingsford Legal Centre

Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney

Newtown Neighbourhood Centre

National Tertiary Education Union - NSW Division

Better Renting

Public Interest Advocacy Centre

Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association

Shelter Tasmania

Council of Single Mothers and their Children

Tenants' Union ACT

Jesuit Refugee Service

Marrickville Legal Centre

WACOSS

United Workers Union

GetUp

Tenants' Union of Tasmania

YOUNG Campaigns

Community Information & Support Victoria

Council for Homeless Persons

Tenants’ Queensland

QCOSS

UnionsACT

Tenants' Union of NSW

Central Coast Tenants’ Advice and Advocacy Service

Illawarra Legal Centre

CIT Student Association

Financial Counselling Australia

Community Legal Centres NSW

VCOSS

Tenancy WA

People with Disability Australia

Physical Disability Council of NSW

Homelessness NSW

Foundation for Young Australians

Metro Community Housing

ACTCOSS

National Shelter

St Vincent de Paul Society

New England and Western Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service

Shelter SA

Anglicare Australia

Shelter NSW

Shelter WA

Sydney Community Forum

Redfern Legal Centre

COTA NSW

NCOSS

Churches Housing

Women With Disabilities ACT

Darwin Community Legal Service

Australian Unemployed Workers' Union

Women's Electoral Lobby NSW

First Nations Homelessness Project

Blind Citizens WA

Anglicare WA

Community Legal Centres Australia

Centre for Social Impact

Uniting

Justice Connect

COTA Tasmania

Older Women's Network NSW

Soroptimist International of South Australia

Northern Rivers Community Legal Centre

Holy Fools

NT Shelter

Academic signatories

Dr. Jess Gerrard

Education, Equity & Politics
University of Melbourne

Dr. Kathleen Flanagan

Housing & Community Research Unit
University of Tasmania

Dr. Julia Verdouw

Housing & Community Research Unit
University of Tasmania

Dr. Louise Crabtree

Institute of Society and Culture
Western Sydney University

Dr. Alistair Sisson

City Futures Research Centre
UNSW

Chris Hartley

Centre for Social Impact
UNSW

Dr. Dallas Rogers

School of Architecture
University of Sydney

Dr. Chris Martin

City Futures Research Centre
UNSW

Dr. Edgar Liu

City Futures Research Centre
UNSW

Dr. Julie Lawson

Centre for Urban Research
RMIT University

Dr. Laurence Troy

School of Architecture Design and Planning
University of Sydney

Dr. Natalie Osborne

School of Environment and Science
Griffith University

Dr. Laura Crommelin

City Futures Research Centre
UNSW

Professor Nicole Gurran

Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning
University of Sydney

Dr. Sharon Parkinson

Centre for Urban Transitions
Swinburne University of Technology

Dr. Sophia Maalsen

School of Architecture
University of Sydney

Professor Alan Morris

Institute for Public Policy and Governance
UTS

Dr. Emma Power

Geography and Urban Studies
Western Sydney University

Greta Werner

PhD candidate
The University of Sydney

Bronwyn Bate

PhD candidate
Western Sydney University