Smiling Hispanic family outside rental home
Smiling Hispanic family outside rental home

Renters facing hard times as job losses bite

RENTERS on the Northern Rivers may struggle to meet their rent after a range of new measures saw many local businesses forced to close.

The measures come as a result of the coronavirus pandemic with many local businesses facing the possibility of having to let staff go.

With uncertain times ahead and a fluid situation confronting many citizens, senior policy officer of the Tenants Union, Leo Patterson Ross, said there needs to be a blanket ban on evictions.

"There definitely needs to be - for two reasons. Firstly, from a health perspective, there should be a total pause on evictions to stop the spread by forcing people out into public to try and find a new home. Secondly, the country will need to recover after this economic shock. It is much more difficult to get back on your feet without a stable home," Mr Patterson Ross said.

Renters appear to be a particularly vulnerable group to the new measures as a Productivity Commission report stated 2.6 million people in Australia are living in low-income private renting households.

47 per cent of those households stated they had less than $500 dollars after paying rent and didn't feel they could raise $2000 dollars in a week should an emergency, like the coronavirus, occur and create unforeseen circumstances.

The federal government and state governments are working on a response to provide some help in this area, but Mr Patterson Ross said it needed to be inclusive.

"We need to make sure it's done right - we especially need to consider people who aren't covered by the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 like boarders and lodgers who are vulnerable to being thrown out without any oversight of whether it's fair. They are likely to end up experiencing even more severe homelessness."

Mr Patterson Ross said that it is important renters understand their rights in situations like these.

"Tenants can still rely on the current law - your landlord cannot evict you without an order from the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal, and you can't be physically evicted except by the Sheriff."

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