End of moratorium leaves Peel tenants facing unknown

Tenants are concerned they could be facing eviction or paying unaffordable rent when the moratorium ends. Photo: File image.
Tenants are concerned they could be facing eviction or paying unaffordable rent when the moratorium ends. Photo: File image.

When WA's moratorium on tenancy agreements ends on March 28, 2021 many people fear it will dump struggling Peel residents back into poverty and potentially homelessness.

In response to COVID-19, the WA government introduced a moratorium on some evictions and all rent increases so people who were facing financial hardship brought on by the pandemic would not find themselves homeless.

During this time rental vacancies in the Peel region have dwindled, with availabilities dropping from 394 to 93 in the last 12 months.

Mandurah H&N Perry Real Estate sales director Frank Lawrence says to expect increase rent and more rental vacancies. Photo: Supplied.

Mandurah H&N Perry Real Estate sales director Frank Lawrence says to expect increase rent and more rental vacancies. Photo: Supplied.

Mandurah H&N Perry Real Estate sales director Frank Lawrence said when the moratorium ends the Peel region could expect to see increased rent and more rentals available.

"Based on feedback from agents in the area and noting the large drop over the last 12 months in properties listed for rent, the vacancy rate is very low in the Peel region," he said.

"Once the market returns to normal at the end of the moratorium in March 2021, we can hope to see a return of investors to the market and tenants adjusting household size, which will help to balance the market.

"We expect there will be more available rentals when the moratorium ends so people can move more freely within the market."

With tenants concerned they could be facing eviction or paying unaffordable rent once the moratorium ends, Mr Lawrence urged open communication between landlords and renters.

"It's important to always have open communication with your real estate agent about your financial situation," he said.

"Landlords should also always go through a REIWA agent and speak to their property manager to ensure they are renting their property for what it's worth in the current rental climate.

"Landlords should consider the quality of the tenant, not just who will pay the highest rent."

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Consumer Protection is also encouraging landlords and tenants to start a conversation now about what happens to their rental arrangements when the ordinary tenancy laws kick-in again after March 28.

Mandurah mayor Rhys Williams say the City is working with community agencies to prepare for the end of the moratorium. Photo: File image.

Mandurah mayor Rhys Williams say the City is working with community agencies to prepare for the end of the moratorium. Photo: File image.

With less than two months until the expiry of the moratorium, Mandurah mayor Rhys Williams said social advocates were concerned about the financial and housing issues locals could be facing.

"It's hard for us to know at this stage what the impacts of the moratorium ending will be, but I know that our local community support agencies are concerned about the situation," he said.

"We will keep working closely with these agencies to monitor the situation, and raise matters with state and federal departments where necessary.

"More generally, while housing and financial relief is squarely a state and federal government responsibility, these are local people and families that are impacted and we will continue to work directly with the homeless and family support groups, organisations and volunteers to provide support to those finding themselves in a vulnerable position."

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Both Mr Williams and Mr Lawrence encouraged anyone experiencing financial hardship to contact local support agencies and to apply for government financial assistance.

"The latest extension to the Residential Rent Relief Grant Scheme will target tenants who may struggle to pay expected rent increases when the moratorium ends and with the rental market in WA being tight," Mr Lawrence said.

Further details of the rent grants are available at, http://www.dmirs.wa.gov.au/covidrentgrant