More than 210,000 Queensland renters are at risk of losing their homes if the State and Federal governments do not take on COVID-related rental debt, one of Australia's peak rental advocacy groups says.

A new report by Better Renting - a consortium of Australian renters - has warned that an Australian eviction crisis could be looming after vulnerable renters were pushed into debt during the pandemic.

Better Renting data estimated that up to one million Australians had fallen into rental arrears as a result of the "disastrous" impacts of the COVID-19 economic crisis and may struggle to meet those deferred repayments when rental moratoriums end.

Among them are up to 219,000 Queenslanders who are already exposed to eviction after the state's eviction freeze ended on September 29.

With the remaining moratoriums expected to end in early 2021, Better Renting is calling on State and Federal governments to work together to clear any rental debt accumulated during the crisis and reduce the ongoing effects of the pandemic.

"Governments have a responsibility to ensure that people aren't losing their home because of the economic impact of COVID-19," Better Renting executive director Joel Dignam said.

"Keeping renters secure in their homes over coming months is essential to help our community stay strong and recover from the impact of coronavirus on our society."


Renter Simon Perry at his New Farm unit. Picture: Richard Walker
Renter Simon Perry at his New Farm unit. Picture: Richard Walker


New Farm resident and renter Simon Perry said a rental deferral was his only option after losing his job in the depths of the pandemic.

"I didn't want to push my luck by asking for a rent reduction… they had all the power," he said.

Mr Perry said he was now working again, but the deferred debt was an added financial pressure.

"It has made life a lot harder. I was very worried. Now I am still on slim margins because of all the repayments on top of the rent," he said.

The report - Til Debt Do Us Part - reviewed data on rental negotiations to estimate that between five and 15 per cent of rental households or between 324,000 and 973,000 Australians could be in rental debt.

Mr Dignam said the refusal by landlords to provide rent reductions meant other renters had been forced to deplete financial reserves or accrue other debt in order to meet rental repayments.





Originally published as 200k-plus evicted: Queensland's rental time bomb