The Real Estate Institute of Australia is calling for all COVID-19 rental eviction moratoriums to be removed with fewer businesses unable to pay their rent than expected.
President Adrian Kelly wants some ‘normality’ for both tenants and property owners as latest ABS figures show unemployment at 6.6 per cent.
The National Cabinet agreed to a moratorium on evictions in late March 2020 initially for six months for commercial and residential tenancies in financial stress, due to the impact of coronavirus.
Mr Kelly said the policy was the ‘absolute right decision’ at the time by the nation’s leaders and had a positive impact on Australia’s initial line of defence.
“However, issues around tenants being impacted by COVID-19 and their ability to pay rent has not been anywhere near what was expected in early 2020,” he said.
“Despite this, almost all jurisdictions except for Queensland and the Northern Territory continue to extend the moratorium period far beyond six months.”
The percentage of impacted tenants is less than five per cent in major cities and less than one per cent in regional areas, he said.
Mr Kelly said there was ‘minimal impact’ when the eviction moratorium was removed in Queensland and called for all states to do the same.
Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales currently have extended the measure until the end of March, while in the ACT it is in place until the end of April.
“This has the potential to cause hardship on many landlords who may already be struggling,” Mr Kelly said.
“Funding of sorts remains available in most jurisdictions for both tenants and property owners who remain impacted and we call on all state governments to provide that targeted support to landlords and spend these funds.”
With paused mortgages set to be restarted, Mr Kelly said property owners are reliant upon rental payments resuming to pre-pandemic levels and it was sensible for moratoriums to be equally re-examined on a national basis.