WITH fears of a surge in homelessness if the McGowan government’s moratorium on evictions is lifted at the end of this month, the WA Greens are trying to get ahead of the game and hear from worried renters directly.
East Metro MLC Tim Clifford has launched an online Covid-19 rental health check survey, and expects the results will show the need for ongoing government support will need to be extended – including rental assistance for those who lost jobs.
“It’s a real issue, and we have asked questions in parliament if the government is looking at an extended moratorium, but their response has been ‘it’s an ongoing thing we are monitoring,” Mr Clifford told the Voice.
“It’s not done much to quell people’s anxiety.”
Mr Clifford said they were hoping to hear from 1000 voters across a range of demographics to develop a “real-time” snapshot of the rental market.
“We know that when Covid hit, thousands of people lost their jobs, and there’s a large cohort who are renters.
“I think it was yesterday I read an article about people accessing payday lenders just to meet the basic needs in life to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table, and we know there’s been concerns about predatory behaviour and extremely high interest rates.”
Mr Clifford said it was concerning that some real estate agents had been encouraging “rent bidding” where people offered to pay more than the asking price for a home just to get in. It was being fuelled by people returning to WA from overseas.
“Even before the pandemic there were a lot of issues underlying the rental market that people don’t know about in terms of rental stress and the fact we have 14,000 people on the social housing waiting list and an average wait of 95 weeks.”
Mr Clifford urged the McGowan government to listen to housing and advocacy groups rather than industry lobbyists, though he acknowledged that a depressed property market meant there was “stress at all levels”.
“It comes down to what is the role of the government which is to protect people and to look after the community,” Mr Clifford said.
The Voice contacted the premier’s office and the housing minister’s office to see if a decision has been made on the moratorium and rental assistance scheme.
Mr Clifford’s survey can be found at: http://www.surveymonkey.com/r/59WY5XV