- 40% of tenant households across Australia said they ran out of money to buy essentials after paying rent due to COVID lockdowns
- A third of the tenants surveyed were ignored or were unable to negotiate a rent reduction with their landlord
- 5% of tenants received an eviction notice during the pandemic
- Around half of respondents said their mental health was negatively impacted by COVID-19 lockdowns.
Almost 40% of Australian tenant households cannot afford essential items such as bills, clothing, transportation and groceries after paying rent as their incomes have plummeted during the COVID-19 pandemic, new research from the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute shows have found.
The University of Adelaide's Study, Rents During the COVID-19 Period: Understanding the Impact, surveyed 15,000 public and private rental households in all Australian states and territories in July and August 2020.
The study identified challenges for the rental sector and provides insights into the development of the rental market, the uptake of existing support measures and the demand for future support.
According to the study, Australian tenant households earning less than $ 90,000 a year had higher rates of cutbacks (up to 26% of households), temporary job losses (up to 16%) or total income reductions (up to 11%) compared to households with higher incomes.
One in six respondents stated that they had had access to government income support such as JobKeeper or JobSeeker for the first time, although households with low to middle income have a higher need for support.
Around half of respondents said their mental health was negatively impacted by COVID-19 lockdowns, and just over 10% said it was significant.
"COVID-19 has been devastating for many Australians, but those in the rental sector have been particularly hard hit," says project leader Professor Emma Baker, professor of housing research at the University of Adelaide.
“The pandemic and the subsequent economic and social blockade have rapidly changed our housing system: the way we use our homes, our ability to afford them, and the role of government safety nets. The pandemic has put many people in the rental market at risk. You face uncertainty, tenure uncertainty, financial hardship, and significant mental health implications. "
When examining the stability of tenancies during the pandemic, the researchers found that just over 5% of those surveyed had received an eviction notice during the pandemic. Although some of these tenants benefited from state and territorial eviction protection, just over half of the households that were issued eviction notice were evicted.
Additionally, 16% of tenant households surveyed had requested a rent change (either deferral or reduction) due to hardship related to COVID-19, and 30% of those households said the landlord would not negotiate or did not respond to theirs You're welcome.
The report also found that there are significant uncertainties about the need for future government income support. When households were asked if they thought they would need financial assistance in the next 12 months, 28% responded, 31% said they didn't know and 40% said they didn't.
"Many tenants are currently weakened by the full economic impact of the pandemic through their savings, retirement and rent deferrals, as well as temporary government support in the form of eviction moratoriums, JobKeeper and JobSeeker," says Professor Baker.
“Given the ongoing health and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, tenants will be entirely dependent on packages of government assistance when those savings and retirement buffers run out. In the absence of an effective and accessible vaccine, it's likely that the situation for renters captured in this mid-2020 snapshot will change by mid-2021 – and almost certainly worse. "
University of Adelaide
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