COVID-19 Update: Renting and Shelter
Since our last update, both Federal and State Governments have announced numerous financial packages to support Australians during the crisis. Here’s the latest on rental and housing initiatives in Victoria.
Rental moratorium announced
Since the Federal Government announced a rental moratorium for all renters on Mach 29, it was only yesterday that the Victorian Government revealed the $500 million package to assist both commercial and residential tenants and landlords. The package is welcome, however with the good comes the bad.
Here’s the good news:
Eviction bans and rent increases are going to be enshrined in law
Landlords who reduce rent for their tenants will be able to apply for land tax reductions
Tenants can apply for rent relief payments if they meet the criteria
But, the bad news is:
Renters are still required to negotiate reductions with their landlord. The big concern here is the massive power imbalances between renters and landlords.
If you meet the very specific criteria for rent relief (registering their revised rent agreement with Consumer Affairs Victoria, have less than $5000 in savings, and are paying at least 30% of their income in rent) this payment is capped at $2000. If this is meant to last for the next six months, that comes to $77 per week.
There is still a possibility of renters accruing ‘debt’ for rent they can’t pay over the next six months.
Shelter for people experiencing homelessness
Last week, the Minister for Housing announced that the State government will repurpose aged-care sites to shelters for people experiencing homelessness, to prevent infection, and help those infected recover. While this is a welcome step, Blessing Bags will continue to push for long-term solutions to ensure every person in Melbourne can have access to the basic human right of safe and secure housing during and after this crisis.
Image curtesy of ThinkGlink