State Treasurer Jackie Trad says she understands people are “incredibly fearful” that they may not be able to pay their rent and pledged that the government will backdate the eviction moratorium in Queensland to March 29.
In a live Q&A streamed on Facebook, Ms Trad said the state government had set up a grant program that offers an emergency rental assistance payment of up to $500 a week, for up to four weeks, for Queenslanders who can not make rent.
“That is pretty obvious out there in the community that people are incredibly fearful about having an income and being able to make rent, being able to put food on the table, being able to make other sorts of cost-of-living obligations like utility bills,” Ms Trad said.
“We have in fact set up a grants system for those people in the private rental market, so where you’ve lost your job, you’re not going to get any income support from Centrelink until at least the 27th of April.
“The Queensland government has an assistance program where we will provide you $500 a week to help you with your rent payment and it’s a really simple process.”
The payments can be accessed by calling the Residential Tenancies Authority on 1800 497 161.
Ms Trad also acknowledged the state government would be writing the eviction moratorium into law “for tenants who can’t make rent because they’ve lost their job due to coronavirus or the impacts, either directly or indirectly, of coronavirus.”
“There will be an absolute moratorium, prohibition, written into law around evicting renters because they can’t pay their rent and that will be backdated to the day the Prime Minister announced that out of the national cabinet,” she said.
However, she said the eviction moratorium is for people who have been “genuinely impacted” by a coronavirus.
“For tenants that do the things that would ordinarily see them evicted – if they significantly damage the property or the owners themselves move in because of financial distress – then that will still occur, this isn’t a blanket prohibition,” Ms Trad said.
“But where you have lost your job, your hours have been cut, and where you genuinely can not make your rent, you will not be evicted and we will guarantee that by law and we will also help you make up the shortfall in terms of your rent payments until you start getting some income support, or hopefully get another job.”
Ms Trad said the government is considering renting out hotels to house the homeless.
“We are looking at every option, including hotels for those who find themselves homeless,” she said.
“We are looking at absolutely everything, including head leases in hotels or motels to make sure that we can properly look after those who are most vulnerable in our community.”
Source: Courier Mail.