Coronavirus: Renters package due tonight


The relief package for renters, put together by the states, is due to be considered by the National Cabinet tonight.
The Government now has broad powers to increase and expand payments to help people in difficult situations – this includes people facing rental stress. It should use them.
With people sleeping out, just to get to Centrelink, and unemployment growing rapidly, there will be unprecedented strain on household finances.
For many families the biggest household expense is rent.  
The package, to be discussed tonight should consider:
  • Eviction moratorium – Preventing landlords commencing eviction proceedings for a failure to pay rent as a result of financial hardship caused by the virus.
  • Payment flexibility – allowing rents to be paid over time. This could be a smart way to transfer the mortgage flexibility given to landlords by banks, to the tenants who live in these dwellings.
  • Utility payment holidays – extended, and penalty free, periods to pay the phone, the gas, the internet, and the power bills, without fear the service will be cut off.
Last week the UK and US Governments announced measures to protect mortgage-holders from foreclosure and tenants from eviction. We should do the same.
UK landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict tenants for at least a three-month period. 
The states have had a number of days now to consider the most impactful measures and create a comprehensive and workable package. We urge Governments to act immediately tonight.