REIA president calls for property owners to 'have compassion' during COVID-19 crisis

OPTIONS: Contact your real estate agent or landlord to discuss your options if you are struggling to pay your rent. Photo: Shutterstock.
OPTIONS: Contact your real estate agent or landlord to discuss your options if you are struggling to pay your rent. Photo: Shutterstock.

IN this time of great flux, where job insecurity is at an all-time high, it can be a little overwhelming to try and understand what our options are when it comes to tenancy.

State and Federal leaders have come to the table with ongoing government assistance, but everything can become a little frustrating when you have to wait on hold to Centrelink just to get your ID number.

Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) president Adrian Kelly is calling on tenants and landlords alike to work together with REIA supporting those who most vulnerable.

"Looking after tenants who have lost employment is nothing new to us. What is new is the scale of the problem, but we will help you get through this," Adrian said, adding those who had lost their job were expected to continue to pay their rent if they can afford it.

"If you don't, it creates a problem for you down the track and also creates problems for the owner of the property in which you live, many of whom have also lost their jobs and have families and children to feed.

"If you can't afford to pay your rent, we understand. Don't bury your head in the sand and think that the problem will go away because it won't."

Adrian encouraged those who were financially vulnerable to engage with REIA and for those who had lost their job to speak to their former employer about benefiting from the recent JobKeeper assistance package.

"Talk to your employer and go and get it. There is your rental assistance and cash for other expenses right there. Go find it."

STATE GOVERNMENTS

Adrian said the industry, like many others, would prefer 'a soft landing' at the other end of this crisis than a hard one.

"The real estate industry stands ready to assist as we always have," he said.

"This is our forte and we are ready to do whatever we need to do to make sure that our tenants and property owners suffer as little damage as possible."

Adrian encouraged all states and territories to 'step up and reach a unified position'.

"That position must be to keep the cash flowing through the economy. We have all been offered a lifeline by the federal government in the form of wages assistance so that everyday Australians can continue to pay their bills including rent.

"The rent cash flow ensures that everyone wins and I unashamedly include the real estate agent in that.

"We need income in order to continue to employ our property managers who are at the coal face of looking after both tenants and landlords," he said, adding leaving tenants and landlords to fix the problem will result in "utter anarchy".

"For example, what about the case of a tenant who lives in a rental property in Melbourne but the owner of that property lives in Brisbane. They have never met. How will that negotiation end up?"

PROPERTY OWNERS

Adrian said he understood many property owners will come under an immense amount of pressure over the coming months.

"We know that this is a stressful time for you, particularly for those of you that just like your tenant, have also lost employment," he said.

"We are here for you as we always have been and we will help you and your tenant get through this. We are all in this together," he said, encouraging those managing their own properties to not take advantage of the current situation.

"For those owners who do this, you are nothing short of greedy and pathetic. Just stop it and show some compassion."

TENANT LOBBY GROUPS

Adrian assured Tenant Lobby Groups that, while he was on their side, calling for free rent for everybody "just doesn't cut it".

"You need to be more socially and financially responsible than that and perhaps once and for all finally understand that money doesn't grow on trees," he said.

"Tenants who are still in employment need to continue to pay the rent and you need to be supportive of this because it is the right thing to do.

"For those tenants who have lost employment or have had their hours reduced, let our industry work through those issues."

Adrian went on to thank the entire industry for the leadership shown over the past month.

"We will get through this but there will also be casualties."

This story Industry to put tenants first: REIA president first appeared on Port Macquarie News.