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Report Private rental Housing assistance and policy Non shelter outcomes

Renting in the time of COVID-19: understanding the impacts

Final Report No. 340

Date Published: 15 Oct 2020

Authors: Emma Baker Rebecca Bentley Andrew Beer Lyrian Daniel

This research surveyed and analysed the circumstances for Australian renters during the initial phase of the COVID-19 lockdowns in July and August 2020 to give insights into how the rental market is performing, the uptake of existing support measures and the demand for future assistance.

Almost all tenants were affected in some way (often in multiple ways): in their employment, living environment, ability to pay rent, and risk of eviction. Low-to-moderate income households (<$90,000/annum) generally faced higher rates of reduced working hours (up to 26%), temporary job loss (up to 16%) or reduction to overall income (up to 11%) compared to higher income households. Younger age groups were disproportionately affected across all categories of changes to employment or income.

Just under 30 per cent of tenant households surveyed had either requested (16%) or were planning to request (12%) a rent alteration as a result of COVID-19-related hardship. The majority (60%) of these requests were met with either a rent reduction or deferment. More than a third (36%) of respondents said that either the landlord would not negotiate or that they have not yet received a response from their landlord.

The evolving nature of the pandemic presents a challenge for policy makers: housing responses need to simultaneously address short, medium, and long term needs. They need to provide targeted assistance quickly, provide a framework of certainty to enable all stakeholders in the rental sector (tenants, landlords, housing providers, social services) to plan for the future, and they need to anticipate what may evolve in the pandemic. There is a need for a coordinated, universal framework for landlord–tenant negotiations.

DOI: 10.18408/ahuri3125401

Published by: Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute Limited

ISSN: 1834-7223

ISBN: 978-1-922498-07-6


Citation: Baker, E., Bentley, R., Beer, A., and Daniel, L. (2020) Renting in the time of COVID-19: understanding the impacts, AHURI Final Report No. 340, Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute Limited, Melbourne, https://www.ahuri.edu.au/research/final-reports/340, doi:10.18408/ahuri3125401.