The national government has recently unveiled a scheme that seemingly leaves residential tenants out, according to some market watchers.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a new code of conduct that will provide rental waivers and deferrals for tenants affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. This, however, only covers commercial tenants.
"The issues that we've worked on as a national cabinet have been to deal with the commercial issues, because they have that broader national economic impact," he said in a recent press briefing.
Residential tenancies, Morrison said, will be dealt directly by state and territory jurisdictions.
"We have a moratorium on evictions, and then individual measures beyond that they believe are best addressed within each individual jurisdiction," he said.
Adrian Kelly, president at the Real Estate Institute of Australia, said this could lead to Australians being treated differently depending on where they reside.
"This will add to the confusion and most likely there will be the misinterpretation of messaging," he said. "I am disappointed that a uniform approach could not have been agreed to for all Australians."
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Responding to Morrison's remark about the commercial sector having a wide economic impact, Kelly said COVID-19 is also taking its toll on residential tenancies.
"For residential it is a social as well as economic impact — after all, we all live in dwellings and not all of us either own or lease commercial property," Kelly said.
Damian Collins, president at Real Estate Institute of Western Australia, urged the state government to provide relief to residential tenants.
Collins said a lack of appropriate support from the state government could impact 250,000 rental properties in Western Australia.
"We need to see emergency residential rent relief for tenants who lose their jobs as a result of coronavirus, to allow them to keep paying rent for the next six months," he said.
Collins said most rental property owners are mum-and-dad investors, who are depending on rents to pay for their mortgages.
"Most property owners are already willing to help tenants who find themselves in financial stress because of coronavirus, but the burden should not fall back entirely on the owner," he said.
In a recent TV interview with ABC News, Housing Minister Michael Sukkar encouraged tenants with the financial capacity to continue paying their rent.
"Unless you have an arrangement with your landlord that takes into account your financial circumstances, you are required to pay your rent. The moratorium applies to make sure that people do not find themselves without a home," he said.
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