Rent concerns rise

Jackson Lavell-LeeBusselton Dunsborough Times
JMW real estate has had a surge in renters seeking help
Camera IconJMW real estate has had a surge in renters seeking help Credit: Jackson Lavell-Lee

Local real estate companies say increasing numbers of renters are seeking help in the wake of job losses and a lack of cashflow stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

JMW real estate principal Joe White told the Times COVID-19 was “having a significant effect on the property market,” but the full consequences would not be known for several months.

Demand for rentals had increased due to self-isolation requirements, which meant some holiday homes were now leased as residential properties. He had not seen any downturn in rental prices yet.

“Renters as well as landlords with mortgages were suffering from the crisis,” Mr White said.

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“This looks to be an acute, but relatively short-term crisis period which is calling on all of us to act with restraint and measured responses.”

Federal Member for Forrest Nola Marino said National Cabinet had recently agreed to a moratorium on evictions during the next six months for commercial tenants in financial distress and unable to meet their commitments due to the impact of coronavirus.

“South West commercial tenants, landlords and financial institutions are encouraged to come together to find a way through the current coronavirus situation, ensuring businesses can survive and be there on the other side,” she said.

She said the State Government would implement a mandatory code of conduct.

“The purpose of the code is to impose a set of good-faith leasing principles for commercial tenancies between owners, operators, other landlords and tenants, where the tenant is a small-medium business and eligible for the Government’s JobKeeper program. The code provides a proportionate and measured burden share between the two parties while still allowing South West tenants and landlords to agree to tailored and appropriate temporary arrangements that take into account their particular circumstances.”

Just Home chairwoman Naomi Godden said there were anecdotal reports of local rents dropping slightly, with some short-term rentals now leased to residents.

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