Rent arrears to rise


Tara Murray

Many Brimbank residents are struggling to pay their rent each month and the number of people falling into rent arrears is tipped to soar as COVID-19 lockdowns continue to impact finances.

A survey by Tenants Victoria found a high number of Brimbank residents experience rental stress during Victoria’s fifth lockdown in July.

Rental stress is defined as spending more than 30 per cent of a household’s gross income on rent.

According to the survey Brimbank was identified as a rental stress hotspot, with 55 per cent of respondents reporting problems making rent payments.

The municipality was listed as the seventh highest local government area (LGA) for rental stress.

Great Dandenong took out the top spot, with 67 per cent of respondents reporting rental stress.

Brimbank Melton Community Legal Centre, which is part of CommUnity Plus Services, has seen an increase of people seeking help with rent payments.

The centre provides free legal services to people who live, work or study in the Brimbank and Melton local government areas who experience disadvantage and financial hardship.

Tenancy and generalist lead lawyer Cameron Bloye said many of clients were already struggling with their rent before the pandemic.

“Across the first 12 months of COVID-19 there were significant government safety nets, including rent subsidies, a ban on evictions, and supplementary Centrelink income support,” he said.

“These supports and protections have now ceased.

“Many of our clients at Brimbank Melton Community Legal Centre were already experiencing financial stress which has been exacerbated by the consecutive lockdowns – a high number of our tenancy clients are in rental arrears.

“Since the start of COVID-19, 82 per cent of our clients seeking tenancy assistance have reported experiencing financial hardship.

“Given these trends and the repeated lockdowns and lockdown extensions, it is likely that we will see more instances of rental arrears and eviction notices pop up.”

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