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 identify challenges for the rental sector and to give insights into how the rental market is performing, the uptake of existing support measures and the demand for future assistance.
- The initial findings suggest a policy-important cohort of tenants in Australia are lined up on the brink of a financial precipice. Many renters are currently buffered from the full economic effects of the pandemic by their savings, their superannuation, and rent deferment, as well as temporary government supports in the form of eviction moratoriums, JobKeeper and JobSeeker.
- The impacts of COVID-19 across the rental sector are, in many respects, still emerging, and this presents a real challenge for policymakers in developing targeted and effective assistance. While policy responses may, in the short term, focus on protective mechanisms, such as eviction moratoriums, the systemic nature of the challenges faced by renters suggests that long-term recovery will be most effectively realised through system-wide policy shifts.
- Challenges for effective policy response include the need to provide targeted assistance quickly, to provide a framework of certainty that enables all stakeholders in the rental sector to plan for the future (e.g. tenants, landlords, housing providers, social services), and to anticipate what issues may evolve in an extended pandemic.