Renters lost pay but not paying less rent

Better Renting says COVID-19 has made housing inequality worse, pushing more people into poverty.
Better Renting says COVID-19 has made housing inequality worse, pushing more people into poverty.

Only a sliver of renters who lost income because of the coronavirus pandemic got a rent reduction, a survey reveals.

Better Renting has on Thursday released a survey of 967 renters over May and June, showing three in five lost all or some of their income because of the health crisis.

Of those, nine per cent received a rent reduction.

The group is calling on the government to maintain the higher rate of JobSeeker, abolish unfair evictions, invest in social housing and implement measures outlined in an open letter to national cabinet.

The letter was signed by more than 70 organisations including charities, legal groups and disability advocates and includes calls for a temporary freeze on rent increases, as well as stopping evictions for being behind on rent.

Better Renting executive director Joel Dignam says the coronavirus has made housing inequality worse, pushing more people into poverty.

"Many tenants who are out of work and out-of-pocket due to the coronavirus crisis face dire circumstances if eviction moratoriums are lifted in September and October," he said.

"Rental costs have been rising faster than wages for decades, now many renters find themselves spending more than 50 per cent of their income on rent.

"With so few landlords giving rent reductions, and so many renters losing income, we are worried about a situation where renters are getting into debt and possibly losing their homes."

The survey also found 16 per cent of renters have skipped meals to save money and close to half have struggled to pay rent and bills.

Australian Associated Press