Locked down and at risk of eviction: RAHU continues to urgently call on state and federal governments to support renters


Lockdown in Victoria looks set to continue and it seems unlikely to be our last. RAHU acknowledges that COVIDsafe measures are integral to curtailing community transmission and maintaining public health. However, renters in unstable work, those who are already in rental stress, and those ineligible for the Federal Government’s emergency relief payment are at growing risk of being unable to pay rent, and— following a recent VCAT ruling—at real risk of eviction. 

Unlike previous lockdowns, when JobKeeper was in effect, those in 2021 have seen people lose work with no safety net. People can’t pay rent or buy food, while $80 million in relief goes to commercial landlords. 2020 showed us that state and federal governments have the financial and political ability to keep Victorians in their homes—now they are picking and choosing who gets help and who is left in the cold.

On top of this, VCAT has yet again ruled it lawful to evict a renter who could not pay rent during the state’s moratorium on evictions. The likely impact of VCAT’s decisions can’t be overstated: they expose thousands of Victorian renters to eviction during a deadly pandemic. 

During lockdown the Victorian government has offered one-off relief payments or food packages to some people, but this isn’t enough to secure access to safe shelter, food, and medical care when renters are losing their income from work on a regular basis. The government needs to provide more than paltry relief payments—Victorians urgently need comprehensive financial relief, and immediate rental protections, in order to continue weathering the dangerous COVID-19 pandemic.

In May 2021, RAHU started a petition calling for urgent relief and assistance for everyone affected by lockdowns. Nearly 1500 signatories have joined us, and we won’t stop until the government does their job.

RAHU urgently demands the Victorian State Government:

  • Immediately reinstate COVID19 Rental Protections
  • Immediately enact an amnesty on rental payments for renters affected for any reason by COVID-19 for the length of Stage 4 Restrictions 
  • Provide a $500 stimulus support payment for every rental household in Victoria

RAHU demands the Federal Government immediately:

  • Reinstate JobKeeper payments
  • Reinstate the JobSeeker COVID-19 Supplement
  • Double Commonwealth Rent Assistance payments and fast track applications 
  • All rental debts accrued due to the impacts of the pandemic are to be forgiven with no fault or penalty