REIA calls for rental support

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While the federal government is exploring efforts to protect tenants during the COVID-19 outbreak, it seems like a no-eviction moratorium without rental support would hurt property owners and managers the most, according to the Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA).

Adrian Kelly, president of REIA, said the group has proposed a policy to the government that will help property managers who will be affected during the outbreak.

"The REIA has proposed a package of rental support to be administered through the current arrangement for payment through the Coronavirus Supplement direct to property management agencies," Kelly said in a statement.

This recommendation would allow a proportional payment to be directed to the agencies, enabling them to pay staff, their own rent, and other outgoings.

Also read: Landlords' wish-list amid COVID-19

"With the Coronavirus Stimulus Package, a couple with two children paying 30% of their Centrelink payment plus rent assistance would be able to pay $473 per week and still have $912 per week to live on," Kelly said.

Figures from REIA show that there are 3.3 million properties that are either rented or available for rent in the country.

At the current median rent in Australia, $1.42bn worth of rents would be collected weekly to pay the owners, their banks, and tradespeople to undertake repairs and maintenance.

"The calls to place a moratorium on evictions without offering any way for tenants to meet their rental payments means those maintaining and managing rental properties are at risk of not having any safety net for their incomes," Kelly said.

There are about 70,000 property managers, principals, real estate agents and representatives across Australia. Kelly said these people would be affected if there is no rental support for tenants.

"Whilst some agencies have a business that covers sales and rentals, there are many that are 100% reliant on rentals for their commission-based income," Kelly said.

In the case of property managers, Kelly estimates that around $141m of supposed earnings are at risk.

In a separate interview with ABC News podcast, Kelly said what the government needs to do is to find a way to help these tenants to keep paying their rent.

"This is so that these agencies and businesses around Australia — many of which are 'mum and dad' type of businesses — can continue to thrive and perform the functions of a property manager," he said.

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