No forced evictions measures have been mooted for the nation's three million rental residential properties

No forced evictions measures have been mooted for the nation's three million rental residential properties
No forced evictions measures have been mooted for the nation's three million rental residential properties

There's been no official indications from the Australian state governments whether renters will be given any financial reprieve in the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Homeowners have been backed by the big banks, who have offered to pause mortgage repayments for up to six months for those affected financially by COVID-19. 

However there are some three million renters who haven't been formally told whether they're expecting any financial aid or abatement in keeping a roof over their heads.

There are about eight million occupying the residential rental premises.

The Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said landlords will be among those who "are going to be making sacrifices in the months ahead", adding that everyone has that role to play.

Last week the PM held a press conference in Canberra suggesting help for tenants is coming, but there's been no update forthcoming from the state governments who regulate the rental market.

"Further work will be done on identifying how relief can be provided for tenants in both commercial and residential tenancies to ensure that in hardship conditions, there will be relief available," Morrison said.

"All Australians are going to be making sacrifices obviously in the months ahead, and everyone does have that role to play, and that will include landlords at the end of the day."

“(States are) working to identify how relief can be provided for tenants in both commercial tenancies and residential tenancies, to ensure that in hardship conditions, there will be relief that will be available, and ensuring that tenancy legislation is protecting those tenants over the next six months at least,” Morrison added.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg also called for landlords to act.

"This is a team Australia moment. Whether you are an energy company, whether you're a landlord, whether you're a bank, you need to fully understand the predicament in which your customers are finding themselves through no fault of their own", Frydenberg said last week.

Press conferences by Morrison and Frydenberg have suggested it will be a state by state financial relief package.

The REIA President Adrian Kelly has said the real estate industry across Australia is "extremely concerned" for the welfare of tenants

"We know that many of our tenants are employed in sectors that are likely to experience significant job losses during these uncertain times.

"On behalf of the real estate industry I would like to communicate to our tenants that we absolutely understand the stress and anxiety that you may be feeling at this time."

He noted agents have a responsibility and a duty of care to look after the interests of both tenants and also property owners.

"Under normal circumstances if a tenant can no longer afford to pay their rent, we undertake the process of eviction.

"However in these times of the Coronavirus pandemic, we are in unchartered waters.

"If a tenant is unable to pay their rent, due to a loss of income, the situation is further exacerbated by the fact they may need to self-isolate for a period of time."

Kelly indicated there was already an issue for property owners, particularly in Melbourne and Sydney, whose tenants are overseas student currently locked out of the country.

Kelly said he was in the process of writing to the larger banks and financial institutions to make them aware of these imminent situations.

"The postponement of mortgage repayments by the banks and financial institutions, for impacted property owners, is a possible solution."

Kelly has also spoken to the federal housing minister Michael Sukkar to discuss the situation with him.

The US has seen eviction notices are still being pinned on doors of millions of tenants.

However the lockdown in the US have banned estate agents from functioning under the stay at home laws, so they are not able to show new tenants any new rental listings.

Donald Trump declared the Department of Housing and urban development (HUD) would be “providing immediate relief to renters and homeowners by suspending all foreclosures and evictions until the end of April", cover 30 million homeowners from eviction, although it didn't cover the 40 million renters across the country.

New York, who has the largest public housing authority in the nation, has temporarily blocked evictions for renters, although that's only renters in federally subsidized apartments.

The Texas Supreme Court has ordered a halt to all tenant evictions until the end of April.

The UK however has protected their renters.

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick announced the new laws last week that would ban landlords in England and Wales from evicting tenants.

They will not be evicted from their homes for at least three months. 

Joel Robinson

Joel Robinson

Joel Robinson is a property journalist based in Sydney. Joel has been writing about the residential real estate market for the last five years, specializing in market trends and the economics and finance behind buying and selling real estate.

Tags: 
Rental market Coronavirus

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