Australian Greens Housing spokesperson Senator Mehreen Faruqi and Leader of the Australian Greens Adam Bandt MP have said that the federal government must step up and develop a national housing policy that addresses big gaps left by the states.
Housing packages announced by state governments in recent days have largely left vulnerable renters in the lurch and failed to address the power imbalance between landlords and tenants.
Senator Mehreen Faruqi said:
“We have seen some positive steps from the states, such as moratoriums on evictions and funding for tenant advocacy services, but it’s not good enough to leave renters at the mercy of landlords.
“Measures across the board are still skewed towards landlords and leave renters behind. Leaving negotiation up to individual landlords and their tenants makes the most vulnerable tenants open to exploitation at a time when they need security and certainty.
“This power imbalance between landlords and tenants will further entrench inequality post-pandemic. This is the time to ensure a better deal for renters and the dignity of a secure home for everyone.
“Renters need confidence that if they ask for a rent-free period or for rent reductions now, they won't be faced with rental hikes or a big debt to pay later when the pandemic is over. We need a nationwide rent freeze so no one is left behind now or later.
“The federal government has really failed here. They must immediately step up. We need an increase and expansion of Commonwealth Rent Assistance payments. The government needs to bring big banks to the table, and direct them to provide mortgage relief, with no interest accrual, a ban on foreclosures and a freeze on owners’ credit ratings,” she said.
Adam Bandt MP said:
“No one should be forced onto the streets during a pandemic. These approaches by the states are a good step towards keeping a roof over everyone’s heads through this crisis, but they need to go further.
“Even when faced with the prospect of thousands of renters being unable to pay their rent, state and territory governments have heavily weighted their response in favour of landlords.
“As it stands, renters face being saddled with thousands of dollars of debt.
“Telling renters to ‘work it out’ with their landlords doesn’t mean much when landlords hold all the cards.
“While some landlords are wondering whether their investment properties will turn a profit this year, renters are wondering whether they’ll be able to eat this week. It shouldn’t be difficult for governments to figure out who needs the most help.”