The government’s Minister for Housing and Assistant Treasurer, Michael Sukkar, has stressed the importance of tenants continuing to pay rent under the six-month moratorium on evictions, calling for a balance between tenants and landlords.
While many renters are starting to feel the financial pressures of the coronavirus pandemic, Sukkar has stressed that the six-month moratorium on evictions does not mean Australians can stop paying rent.
“There is a moratorium on evictions but not a moratorium on the requirement to pay rents,” Sukkar told ABC TV’s RN Drive with Patricia Karvelas on Wednesday. “We don’t want to see people evicted but that does not absolve people of their responsibility to pay their rent,” he said.
Sukkar also welcomes the separation of commercial and residential rent approaches being discussed at this Friday’s national cabinet meeting, “I know that our national cabinet will have more to say further to their principles that were outlined last week on how, particularly states and territories, are going to deal with it. As the PM has said, we need landlords and tenants to come together, and there must be an element of sharing the pain.
“We are seeing a lot of landlords and tenants working closely together but we need to put in some minimum standards and that’s what I’m confident the national cabinet will do.”
The Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) has welcomed the Minister for Housings’ clarifications. REIA President, Adrian Kelly said, “a moratorium on evictions doesn’t mean rent is not payable, it is. If circumstances mean that payment in full is not possible it is a holding off from payments, not a cancellation.
“It is for people who cannot pay at this time not for those that can. If you can pay your rent now, you pay it. If you can’t pay your rent now, you have been given grace for six months, but will have to catch up when you are able to pay it again.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and state and territory leaders will meet on Friday to discuss minimum standards and rules around residential and commercial rents and flesh out the principle of a six-month moratorium on evictions. Commercial tenants struggling from the coronavirus economic downturn are hoping that Fridays’ meeting will offer them a combination of part deferrals and part waivers on their rents.
Banks have already stepped in to offer mortgage relief on private investment properties for up to six months, but federal government plans to provide landlords with some form of tax relief appear to have fallen short.