People Want The Government To Freeze Rent While They Can’t Work Due To Coronavirus

"How can people pay for rent when their workplaces are closed?"

rent freeze

As the coronavirus shuts down more and more workplaces across the country, people are calling on the government to freeze rents so people aren’t forced into homelessness while unable to work.

While many offices have told staff to work from home there are many jobs for which that isn’t possible — and casual and freelance workers are particularly vulnerable.

Some countries in Europe — the world’s new coronavirus hotspot — are already putting these measures in place.

Italian banks have imposed a moratorium on mortgage repayments, and yesterday France suspended all taxes, rent, gas, electricity and water bills.

Now Australians want the same privileges.

Renters Choose Between Risking Health Or Risking Homes

As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds Greens MP for Newtown Jenny Leong is lobbying the NSW government for a moratorium on all rental evictions.

She told Junkee she didn’t want the crisis to be made worse by people having to choose between risking their health or risking their homes.

“We know that a lot of people that are in casual or freelance jobs are also in insecure house and are already facing rental stress,” she said.

“What we want to see is the government making sure there is no one who is finding themselves in a situation where they’re making the decision to put their health or the community’s health at risk because of the fear they can’t pay rent or pay bills.”

She said given the urgency the government should first assure renters they will not face eviction during the coronavirus pandemic, and then work out the exact mechanisms to put in place.

“We need to have (renter’s) anxieties immediately reduced,” she said.

“The next step after putting in place a moratorium would be to sit down with the tenant’s union, with housing and homelessness reps and potentially with the big banks and have a conversation about how to ensure people in precarious work aren’t slugged with unmanageable debts.

“We know the stress of that can affect people’s mental health and have an impact on their physical health and we don’t want to add to the current pandemic crisis.”

Ms Leong is also writing to the premier and associated ministers about a number of related issues including their strategy for helping public housing tenants and homeless people.

What’s Happening In Western Australia?

Yesterday the Western Australian government announced they would freeze increases on all household costs, including water, electricity, public transport and car registration

These bills were due to rise with the cost of inflation but will now be frozen until June 30, 2021.

The freeze was part of the WA government’s $607 million stimulus package.

While people have praised the move for being a step in the right direction, others are asking whether it goes far enough.

Feature Image:Marco Verch/ Flickr