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A new report has delved into the headwinds affecting tenants at present, with 40 per cent of renters saying they can’t afford essentials as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Led by the University of Adelaide, the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute’s Renting in the time of COVID: Understanding the impacts report surveyed 15,000 public and private renting households across all Australian states and territories during July and August 2020.
A key takeaway found during the research was that 40 per cent of tenant households across Australia indicated that after paying rent, there was not enough money left over to buy essentials due to COVID lockdowns.
Just over 5 per cent of respondents had been hit with an eviction notice during the pandemic, while 16 per cent had requested a rent alteration by way of either a deferral or reduction as a result of COVID-19-related hardship. Of those households, 30 per cent said that the landlord would not negotiate or did not respond to their request.
Further, the research found that one in six respondents had accessed government income assistance, such as JobKeeper or JobSeeker, for the first time, with low-to-moderate-income households having a higher need for assistance. Collectively, 28 per cent of respondents said they’d need greater financial assistance in the next 12 months, 31 per cent said they didn’t know if they would and 40 per cent said they would not
“COVID-19 has been devastating for many Australians, but those in the rental sector have been particularly impacted,” said project leader Professor Emma Baker, University of Adelaide Professor of Housing Research.
“The pandemic, and the subsequent economic and social lockdown, has rapidly changed our housing system: the way we use our homes, our ability to afford them, and the role of government safety nets. The pandemic has placed many people in the rental market at risk; they face uncertainty, tenure insecurity, financial hardship and significant mental health effects.
“Many renters are currently buffered from the full economic effects of the pandemic by their savings, their superannuation and rent deferment, as well as a temporary government supports in the form of eviction moratoriums, JobKeeper and JobSeeker.
“With the ongoing health and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic still evolving, if these savings and superannuation buffers eventually run out, renters will be entirely dependent on packages of government support. In the absence of an effective and accessible vaccine, it is likely that the situation for renters captured in this mid-2020 snapshot will be different – and almost certainly worse – by mid-2021.”