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Ensuring Safe, Secure and Affordable Housing During COVID-19

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Monday, 6 April 2020

Tags: Housing, Homelessness, Health, COVID-19

Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader and Housing spokesperson

The tenants in the 20-unit complex in Hobart facing a huge rent hike is further evidence the State Government must enact a freeze on rent increases.

The Greens have been contacted by a number of tenants anxious their landlords are moving to increase rent, and the conclusion of the National Rental Affordability Scheme is sure to exacerbate this problem further.

In a pandemic emergency it is essential that everyone has a roof over their head.

Parliament unanimously accepted a Greens’ amendment granting the government the power to stop evictions and freeze rent increases for residential tenants.

We were very pleased government moved so quickly to protect tenants from eviction during the emergency period. We believe there is a compelling case to enact a similar Notice, putting a freeze on rent increases.

The bottom line is that many Tasmanians have lost their jobs, or face severely reduced income. Landlords should be sensitive to this.

The majority of landlords will do the right thing, but enacting a freeze on rent increases will put tenants’ minds at ease. We also support government assistance to take pressure off landlords who are themselves facing financial difficulty.

As well as enacting a freeze on rent increases, there is a need for urgent action to ensure people sleeping rough have a roof over their head.

We acknowledge the work of specialist homelessness services and Housing Tasmania in trying to respond to the homelessness issue during the emergency period, but our information tells us more needs to be done.

We understand government is dealing with an enormous complexity of issues to respond to COVID-19. Like all thoughtful Tasmanians, we are worried that too many of those sleeping rough are being left to fend for themselves during this public health emergency.

Access to a safe and secure place to sleep is a basic right, but during a pandemic it could be the difference between life and death.