FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 23 2021
This Sunday, March 28th, the temporary protections Victorian renters have enjoyed will end, yet the economic effects of the pandemic continue. As renters, we are 30% of Victoria’s population, and many of us were considered essential workers as the pandemic raged. Without extending these rental protections, we face eviction and insurmountable debt.
In the Roofs For Ransom report released today, surveying renters from January-March of this year RAHU have confirmed that:
- Renters in private tenancies are being forced to choose between the cost of shelter and other needs such as food and healthcare including medication.
- A significant proportion of renters have ‘self evicted’ as a result of rental stress brought about by the impacts of COVID19
- Renters have compounded vulnerabilities and fewer safety nets placing them at higher risk of homelesness
The survey shows that over the COVID19 period:
- 48% of respondents were in debt of some kind, not including HECS debt.
- 41.6% answered yes to rent related stress affecting their wellbeing, a further 7.58% specifically named mental health, depression, anxiety or extreme stress.
- 26% of respondents have had to move out due to rental stress due to COVID19
- 34% of respondents stated that they struggled to buy food.
- 37% answered that they struggled to pay for healthcare costs including medication
Better Renting’s recent report estimates that up to 973,000 renters have accrued debt during the pandemic. The report also suggests that one million renters are at risk of eviction. The housing crisis will continue to deepen without urgent action.
Victorian renters had a temporary reprieve, yet from March 29th, evictions and exorbitant rent increases can again be weaponised. Many renters were coerced into accepting rent deferrals during the pandemic.
With significant rental debt that we simply can’t pay, the end of the moratorium brings the question of debt into sharp focus.
RAHU is demanding the Victorian Government:
- Cancel Rental Debt
- Stop Evictions
- Extend Rental Protections
The moratorium showed that the government has the power to properly protect renters. At the stroke of a pen, the Government can make sure over 2 million Victorians keep a roof over our heads. We call on the Andrews’ government to take substantial action to protect those most vulnerable to the pandemic’s ongoing economic impacts.
Quotes attributable to: Eirene Tsolidis Noyce, Secretary, Renters And Housing Union
We will continue to defend our members from being chased out of a home by insurmountable debt. The Victorian Government must extend rental protections and waiving rental debt to keep thousands of Victorian renters with a roof over their head.
It’s shown time and again that the profit-driven housing system is broken, at greater urgency. This is a national crisis, and we are demanding urgent action from Federal and State governments, before millions more renters are kicked to the curb.
Landlords and their agents need to realise that the money just isn’t there. This is a national crisis which renters cannot and should not be expected to pay for.
State and Federal Government is still silent on explicit measures that will address this crisis. We can’t afford to wait and we will continue to defend the right to secure housing for all.
We are expecting a wave of evictions once the floodgates open – the end of the moratorium will leave renters with an uncertain future and we will continue to fight for renters and our right to housing security.
Media contact: Paddy Gordon: 0407 712 579 [email protected]
The Renters And Housing Union (VIC) is a member-run Union of renters and people in precarious housing, formed out of the rent strike as a response to the COVID19 crisis. We collectively organise for the right to safe and secure housing through self-advocacy, education, and frontline eviction defence.
Find out more and join RAHU https://rahu.org.au/