MEDIA RELEASE: Rental Relief Package Welcome News for Tenants

Shelter WA has welcomed the rental relief package announced by the State Government today to support renters and landlords.

This sends a wave of relief to 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 package coupled with the moratorium on evictions will ensure many WA renters have housing security during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whilst these grants are provided in addition to any rental reductions negotiated between tenants and landlords, we note that some renters could be left with rental arrears debt at the end of this public health crisis.

The package announced today is $154.5 million for tenants, commercial landlords and the construction industry. The details:

  • $30 million for grants of up to $2,000 for residential tenants who have lost their job and face financial hardship due to COVID-19
  • $100 million in land tax relief grants available for commercial landlords who reduce rent for small business tenants impacted by COVID-19
  • $24.5 million support package to assist the building and construction industry to maintain a skilled workforce and support apprentices and training.

Tenants can access the $2,000 grant if they meet the following criteria:

  • have lost their job.
  • applied to Centrelink for income support.
  • have less than $10,000 in savings.
  • are still paying at least 25 per cent of their income in rent.
  • have agreed to a rental reduction with their landlord.

A key defense in reducing the risk of transmission of COVID-19 is making sure people can self-isolate at home.

“This package gives landlords the reassurance that tenants affected by Covid-19 can access support from the State Government to help pay their rent. Ms Mackenzie said. However, we know that some renters will still be doing it tough.

Ms Mackenzie said she hoped tenants and landlords would do the right thing and only make use of the recent moratorium and the new rental relief package if they needed it. “It is important that tenants and landlords communicate with each other and come to agreements that work for both parties” 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 to address the critical needs of all people in the community facing housing insecurity.

“Whilst this is a relief for people who rent, we need urgent investment in housing and services for people who are experiencing homelessness and do not have a place to call home.”

FAST FACTS

  • 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 one in four 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.
  • Over 4,300 people access specialist homelessness services every day.
  • Over 14,000 are on the wait list for housing.
  • Over 1,300 people live in boarding houses.

To arrange an interview with our CEO Michelle Mackenzie, please contact Heather Bush, Head of Communications and Marketing here.