COVID-19 pushing tenant-landlord relations to the limit

 COVID-19 pushing tenant-landlord relations to the limit

A new study has revealed that renter-landlord relationships across Australia have been pushed to the brink by COVID-19, and it could get worse in the coming months.

Data released by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute highlights the extent of the problems caused by the pandemic, with figures showing 60% of tenants struggling to pay their rent.

Dr David Oswald, of RMIT University, headed up the research and said that COVID has exposed many problems in Australia’s property sector.

“The pandemic has amplified many weaknesses – such as affordability, rental security, overcrowding and homelessness – in the Australian housing system; and in particular, exacerbated many existing challenges in the rental sector,” he said.

With many of the rental support systems put in place soon ending, 35% of tenants are concerned about being able to pay their rent in full over the next few months.

With moratoriums on evictions, rent increases and mortgage deferrals all coming to an end, the issues uncovered by this research risk rapidly worsening.

Dr David Oswald – RMIT University

The findings also uncovered that half of all rent relief negotiations did not meet the tenant’s requests and if it wasn’t for JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments, many people would be struggling even more to stay afloat.

“It was clear from our findings that without this government support, many tenants would be in a significantly worse position, including potentially homeless,” Dr Oswald said.

“Both landlords and tenants reported confusion, stress and uncertainty about what would happen when government financial support packages end,” he added.

So, what can be done?

Policy recommendations put forward following the findings of the report include a rental negotiation framework, policy flexibility to reduce the risk of homelessness and also a landlord hardship fund.

“Overwhelmingly, landlords thought government action had not adequately considered them,” said Dr Oswald.

“Formally including mortgage relief strategies as part of the broader housing and wage relief assistance would provide a more holistic package of support.”

By focusing on improving the success of negotiations in the landlord-tenant relationship, both economic and mental wellbeing could be significantly improved.

Dr David Oswald – RMIT University

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