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Coronavirus pandemic: What happens if I can’t pay my rent?

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Renters hit by financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 currently do not have a government-assisted safety net.

Australians who rent their property are eagerly awaiting news from the Federal Government regarding a safety barrier in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

As of 5pm AEDT the Prime Minister and the national cabinet had made no decision regarding measures to protect renters who may lose their jobs as a result of government restrictions which have wiped out entire industries.

Tenancy law is governed by individual states and territories, and as such may differ across the country.

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It's expected the national cabinet may announce easing measures – such as temporarily banning evictions or freezing rent payments – as early as Friday.

This afternoon the Property Investors Council of Australia (PICA) called on the government to bring in both rental relief measures and to ban evictions for renters hit by financial hardship.

"Let's be clear – landlords understand the situation. The vast majority are decent, hard-working, average Australians who own just one rental property," said PICA chairman Ben Kingsley.

"They want do whatever they can to assist the community, but the fact is most can't afford to bear the cost of having reduced or no rental income while still needing to cover mortgage repayments, tax commitments and repairs and maintenance."

"Put another way, landlords themselves are everyday Australian's who are also feeling the hit with job losses and reduced income like everyone else."

Labor leader Anthony Albanese joined in on calls, saying there also needs to be more government support for landlords to help them cope with rent shortages.

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"You can't maintain social distance and maintain your health at a time like this if you don't have somewhere safe and secure to put your head down at night," he told reporters outside his childhood council flat in Sydney on Thursday.

Labor also wants utility providers, like electricity and water companies, to show more compassion when it comes to bills.

The party's housing spokesman Jason Clare said Australians were worried about losing their homes as well as their jobs.

People line up outside the Centrelink in Osborne Park, Perth.

"Our home is our castle. In the next few months, it's going to be our fortress," Mr Clare said.

Tasmania is debating a freeze on evictions to help struggling renters in state parliament.

The government is considering income tax cuts for landlords who reduce tenants' rent, the Australian Financial Review reported on Thursday.

Impacted customers receiving government financial assistance wouldn't be cut off for unpaid power bills, the Australian Energy Council said.

It told customers to get in touch with their providers to arrange hardship payment plans.

Source: 9News

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