A grant scheme set up by the government to provide relief to tenants in the private rental market is failing Tasmanians just days after it came into effect.
Labor Leader Rebecca White said tenants are finding hidden barriers to accessing financial relief.
“Labor welcomed the introduction of Government’s COVID-19 Rent Relief Scheme, having called on the government to do more to support struggling tenants in the private rental market.
“People who were unable to pay their rent because they’ve been affected by COVID-19 had hoped the scheme would reduce the financial pressure they face.
“But just days after the grant became available, people are finding there are hoops to jump through that the government did not make clear when it announced the scheme.
“For tenants to be eligible for relief under the scheme, landlords have to agree to a rent reduction. An application will not even be considered without that in place.
“Some tenants may not feel confident to ask their landlord or real estate agent for a rent reduction for fear this may jeopardise their tenancy or renewal of their lease, particularly when it has been very difficult for people to find a rental property in Tasmania.
“Those tenants who do approach their landlord or Real Estate Agent have no guarantee a rent reduction will be agreed, which leaves the tenant ineligible for the rent relief grant.”
Ms White said she’d been contacted by people who were running out of options to keep a roof over their head.
“Caitlin rents with her sister but they have faced financial hardship due to Caitlin losing hours with her employer as a result of COVID-19. Sadly, as a casual, Caitlin is not eligible for the JobKeeper payment.
“Caitlin is exactly the type of person who needs rent relief and this grant would make a huge difference to her and her sister, but there is no certainty her landlord will agree to reduce their rent.
“It’s critical that the grant scheme does not put barriers in the way of those who need it.
“It is understandable if some landlords feel reluctant about agreeing to reduce the rent for their tenant before an application for rent relief is approved because for some landlords, the rent from a property may be their only income.
“The grant process is flawed and the government needs to fix it to make sure eligible tenants can access the support they need.”
Rebecca White MP
Tasmanian Labor Leader