Shelter WA has welcomed the Bill introduced to the Legislative Assembly today by the State Government to enforce a moratorium on rental evictions, rent increases and a new dispute resolution process for tenancy matters during COVID-19.
This sends a wave of relief to thousands of West Australian renters who are, or may encounter, financial hardship from job and income losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shelter WA CEO Michelle Mackenzie said the Bill will ensure many WA renters have housing security during the COVID-19 pandemic. It will go some way to helping prevent a second wave of virus-induced homelessness in WA.
“This must be a public health priority for the Government, we do not want any more West Australians becoming homeless,” she warned.
A key defence in reducing the risk of transmission of COVID-19 is making sure people are able to a self-isolate at home.
“This Bill will enable this to happen by supporting renters to stay in their homes. This is good news,” Ms Mackenzie said.
“Renters who are casuals in the workforce are not eligible to receive the $1,500 JobKeeper payment through their employer,” she said.
“JobSeeker payments will not be enough for all West Australian renters to manage to pay their rent, especially if they are already paying more than 30 per cent of their income on rent or are paying more than the median rent of $360 per week.”
Ms Mackenzie said a rental relief package was needed to assist both renters and landlords during this public health crisis.
“Other jurisdictions have released packages that include mechanisms such as land tax relief and rental subsidies,” she said. “We urge the government, the banking and insurance sectors to come to the party and create meaningful relief for landlords so that tenants are not adversely impacted. This must be actioned now.”
Ms Mackenzie said she hoped tenants would do the right thing and only make use of the moratorium if they needed it.
“It is important that tenants continue to pay their rent during this period, and if required to discuss any financial hardship that may impact their rental payments with their landlord” she said.
“Now, more than ever before, we need to work together as COVID-19 impacts are felt across the community.”
Shelter WA will continue to work with the sector and the State Government on additional measures needed to ensure renters and landlords were not adversely impacted by COVID-19.
- Rent is described as unaffordable when households on very low and low incomes spend more than 30 per cent of their income on rent
- There are over 700,000 renters in WA
- Over 1 in 4 WA workers do not have permanent employment or access to entitlements making them more at risk of job and income loss during COVID-19
- Over 9,000 people experience homelessness every day in WA
- Over 4,300 people access specialist homelessness services every day
- Over 14,000 are on the wait list for social housing
- Over 1,300 people live in boarding houses