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Moratorium does not mean rent-free

06 April 2020 Cameron Micallef

Landlords have received welcome news, with the Minister for Housing confirming there is no rental freeze during the moratorium.

During an interview on the ABC’s Afternoon Briefing program, Michael Sukkar explained: “There is a moratorium on evictions, but there is not a moratorium on paying rent.”

REIA president Adrian Kelly said he welcomed the minister’s words, which were a clarification on what a moratorium on evictions means.

“A moratorium on evictions doesn’t mean rent is not payable; it is. If circumstances mean that payment in full is not possible, it is a holding off from payments, not a cancellation,” Mr Kelly said.

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The minister said that while the national cabinet does not want to see people evicted from their homes, unless they have an arrangement with their landlord, they are still expected to pay rent.

“To the greatest extent possible, the minister wants landlords and tenants to work together on this, but at the same time, the government is looking to build a framework for minimum standards,” Mr Sukkar said.

While landlords are seeking protections against tenants who damage a property or conduct illegal activity, Homelessness Australia is calling for the moratorium to be on all evictions.

“I think we all understand in these difficult economic times there is a role for governments to play. But let’s not forget we have strengthened our safety net in a way that Australia hasn’t seen for many decades,” Mr Sukkar explained.

When asked what landlords can do if tenants try to exploit rules, Mr Sukkar said: “Of course, there is a small number that try to game the system. I think the principles are clear: We don’t want people to be without a home, but we have to be sensitive to the financial realities. For landlords who have repayments, they have to make and rely on the income streams to make them.

“Where you tweak on aspects of the system, it does have cascading consequences throughout the system, and that is why the Prime Minister and national cabinet will consider it in detail.”

Moratorium does not mean rent-free
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