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As many as 75k Aussies face mounting deferred rent debts

  • February 12 2021
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As many as 75k Aussies face mounting deferred rent debts

By Cameron Micallef
February 12 2021

Gains made on reducing homelessness during the pandemic last year are likely to be lost in 2021, as the government moves to wind up its temporary support measures, new research has revealed.

As many as 75k Aussies face mounting deferred rent debts

As many as 75k Aussies face mounting deferred rent debts

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  • February 12 2021
  • Share

Gains made on reducing homelessness during the pandemic last year are likely to be lost in 2021, as the government moves to wind up its temporary support measures, new research has revealed.

As many as 75k Aussies face mounting deferred rent debts

A new report by the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) has signalled a potential homelessness crisis in Australia following the expiration of government stimulus measures, which, according to research, could put thousands on the streets. 

While praising the government’s hold on evictions, income support and emergency housing measures, ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie warned that in reality, some of these measures didn’t go far enough. 

Ms Goldie revealed that during the height of the pandemic, only around 8 to 16 per cent of tenants got a variation of lease, despite at least a quarter of all private renters losing income. Moreover, at least 30 per cent of rent variations merely deferred the rent rather than reduced it, implying that at least 75,000 of Australians have mounting deferred rent debts as of late 2020.

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“Governments encouraged landlords to consider rent variations for tenants who had lost income due to COVID-19, but many were unwilling, or agreed only rent deferral rather than rent reduction,” Mr Goldie said.

“Now, with emergency tenancy protection and income support being cut back, tens of thousands of people will be facing huge deferred rental debts – putting us at great risk of a worsening homelessness crisis.”

ACOSS research, carried out in partnership with UNSW Sydney, also showed that almost one in five respondents (19 per cent) had moved since the start of the emergency period, or within five months of the onset of the pandemic in Australia.

Of these movers, 29 per cent did so to reduce their housing costs and 23 per cent moved because the landlord requested or required it. 

UNSW Sydney Professor Hal Pawson, the report author, pointed out that even with the help of increased income support payments and eviction moratoriums, the research showed that people renting were much harder hit by the pandemic than home owners. 

“Nationally, renters’ housing costs dropped by only 0.5 per cent on average; mortgage-holders, by contrast, typically saw a 5 per cent decline in their housing costs,” Mr Pawson noted. 

To help solve Australia’s battle with homelessness, Ms Goldie called on the government to put in place a permanent and adequate level of income support and bolster state social housing construction.

“Now, with emergency tenancy protection and income support being cut back, tens of thousands of people will be facing huge deferred rental debts – putting us at great risk of a worsening homelessness crisis,” Dr Goldie highlighted.

As many as 75k Aussies face mounting deferred rent debts
As many as 75k Aussies face mounting deferred rent debts
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About the author

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Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

About the author

author image
Cameron Micallef

Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

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