The ACT Greens have today welcomed the ACT Government’s commitment to fund a tenancy mediation service.
This follows regular calls from the Greens over the past fortnight for the ACT Government to fund a temporary support service for tenants affected by COVID-19 to provide information and assistance in negotiating with their landlords - allocating $50,000 over the next six months to fund an advocacy, brokerage, and support service to provide assistance to renters who have recently lost income.
“This is a huge win for Canberra renters, and a win for ‘people power’,” Greens Housing spokesperson Caroline Le Couteur said today.
“The Prime Minister recently called on renters struggling during this pandemic to just ‘work it out’ with their landlords. But there is often already a power imbalance between tenants and landlords that, for some, will only be exacerbated during this crisis. This is clearly understood, as the Government provided a similar mediation service for commercial tenancies many weeks ago.
“If you’re already struggling to get by, and then lost your job or had your hours cut, then COVID is hitting hard and in lots of cases, you should really be able to get a rental reduction. Yet many tenants won’t know what their rights are or how best to go about asking for their rent to be reduced if they have lost income because of COVID-19.
“The best way to achieve this is through a mediated conversation with a landlord - a conversation that can be intimidating for some renters. We know that some tenants are already reluctant to request even basic maintenance for fear that they will not have their lease renewed.
“That said, landlords could also gain from this conversation. For example, many landlords, particularly those renting out their properties privately, may not be aware of the land tax discount.
“That’s why the Greens called on the ACT Government to step in and act. We’re pleased today to see this important effort realised.”
The NSW Government recently allocated $2.3 million to the NSW Tenants Union, some of which is specifically for providing information and advocacy to tenants affected by COVID-19.