REIWA CEO Cath Hart today welcomed the Cook Government’s new WA Rent Relief Program, which is aimed at protecting tenants at risk of eviction.

“Rental conditions are extremely challenging at the moment, rents are at record highs and many tenants are experiencing significant rental stress,” she said.

“The most vulnerable in our community are finding it difficult to meet their rent payments and some are falling into arrears, putting them at risk of eviction. It can be very hard to recover from this situation and can put people at risk of homelessness.

“These initiatives will act as a circuit breaker for these tenants, offering immediate financial relief and helping them retain their homes, and also potentially providing additional support for a few months to help them get back on their feet.

Ms Hart said the initiatives would also be welcomed by investors.

“The median rent has risen by 18 per cent in the last 12 months, but the average mortgage has risen by 47 per cent since rates started rising and will go up again after yesterday’s increase by the Reserve Bank of Australia,” she said.

“Investors are also under increasing financial strain and some are selling as a result. However, what we are seeing is these homes are usually bought by owner occupiers, not other investors. This puts further strain on an already tight rental market.

“When tenants fall into arrears, it impacts investors’ finances. By working to prevent this, the Program also supports investors, helping keep them in the market. And we need every investor we can get at the moment.”

Under the $24.4 million program, community service organisations like Anglicare WA and Vinnies WA will identify tenants in need through their existing services and networks, and will assist those tenants in applying for relief.

Relief may involve the payment of arrears, and in some cases, support will also be provided to cover up to 50 per cent of future rent costs for up to three months – capped at $5,000.

Ms Hart said the program, which is set to commence in December, would not put additional pressure on rent prices.

“Unlike some incentives that can inflate the market, this program is focused on WA’s most vulnerable tenants, helping them meet their current obligations and providing some financial breathing room,” she said.

“Tenants will be required to demonstrate they meet the eligibility criteria, which includes experiencing rental stress, being in rental arrears, and being at risk of eviction. Payments will also be provided directly to investment property owners or via property managers.”

Sourced from REIWA