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WA commits $24m to aiding renters in need

By Orana Durney-Benson
10 November 2023 | 1 minute read
Roger Cook reb

The state government’s rental relief program will link up with nonprofits to provide critical support to tenants at risk of homelessness.

The Cook government just revealed a new financial assistance program to help private tenants ward off the ever-growing threat of eviction, with the rollout scheduled to start in December.

With the cost of living at soaring heights, many Western Australian tenants have struggled to make ends meet, and their rental payments have unfortunately slipped behind.

The new program will reportedly help vulnerable renters pay off arrears in order to ward off the threat of eviction. For some tenants, the state government will cover up to 50 per cent of their rental payments for the next three months, with a total cap of $5,000 per applicant.

The government stated it will work with community organisations like Anglicare WA and Vinnies WA to ensure that the most vulnerable tenants get first priority.

“My government is absolutely focused on delivering cost-of-living relief and supporting Western Australians who are doing it tough,” stated Premier Roger Cook.

“The WA Rent Relief Program will help keep a roof over the heads of families that have hit hard times, helping them to get back on their feet.”

In order to access the funding, tenants will first need to go through a rigorous vetting process, which will check that applicants meet specific eligibility criteria such as experiencing rental stress, being in rental arrears, and being at risk of eviction.

As a condition of program participation, tenancy agreements between renters and landlords must be secured continuation. Even when tenants are deemed in need of future rental assistance, the government stated they will still be required to contribute at least 50 per cent of rent in order to “demonstrate their commitment to the tenancy”.

Other tenants will receive one-off payments to cover the cost of arrears.

Housing Minister John Carey emphasised that the government “is deeply cognisant of the current housing market across the country, and how it is impacting many Western Australian families, especially low income earners.

“We’re using every lever we can to not only bolster the supply of housing, but also to support and keep people in their tenancies, given the current demand for housing,” the minister asserted.

The program has been welcomed by industry representatives, who acknowledge the dire positions in which many Western Australian renters are currently finding themselves.

Cath Hart, CEO of the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia (REIWA), shared that the program will come as welcome relief not only to tenants, but also to landlords.

“The median rent has risen by 18 per cent in the last 12 months, but the average mortgage has risen by 47 per cent since rates started rising, and will go up again after [Tuesday’s] increase by the Reserve Bank of Australia,” Ms Hart stated.

She observed that cash-strapped investors are increasingly forced to sell out, putting the tight rental market under even more strain.

“When tenants fall into arrears, it impacts investors’ finances. By working to prevent this, the program also supports investors, helping keep them in the market. And we need every investor we can get at the moment,” Ms Hart stressed.

WA commits $24m to aiding renters in need
Roger Cook reb
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