A group of performers who made headlines by dancing to 1980s hits in their front yard during lockdown are set to be ousted from their Melbourne share house.
- There are fears a “wave of evictions” will come when the JobKeeper subsidy and Victorian eviction moratorium end on March 28
- With states going in and out of COVID-restrictions, many people still find themselves in a precarious financial position
- Tenants Victoria said “urgent action” was needed to keep people in homes
Their removal could mark the beginning of a wave of evictions when JobKeeper and the Victorian eviction moratorium wind-up on March 28.
One of the Brunswick East tenants, Kimberley Twiner, is worried the group will not be able to find appropriate housing if they are forced to leave.
“We haven’t been successful in any of our rental applications,” she told ABC Radio Melbourne.
The Nicholson Street property, which Ms Twiner has rented for the past six years, was sold at auction for close to $1.5 million in October.
The real estate agent has applied to VCAT for possession of the property on behalf of the new owner. There will be a hearing in March.
“It was sold to a first home buyer who wants to live in the property,” said the head of property management at Nelson Alexander, Martin Sizer.
“We advised that to the tenants, and at the end of December at settlement we offered assistance to find them somewhere else to live.”
Mr Sizer admitted the performers could find it difficult to secure a similar rental without a stable income and said he could sympathise with Ms Twiner.
Mr Sizer said landlords across Melbourne were also in financial distress.
“They will be looking to us to provide good applications from tenants who can pay the rent,” he said.
Many could struggle to find housing
The troupe, known as the Brunswick East Entertainment Festival (BEEF), are all full-time performers who have struggled to find paid work during the pandemic.
“It’s extremely depressing. It was so difficult for artists last year,” Ms Twiner said.
The four housemates are relying on JobKeeper and JobSeeker for income since the start of the pandemic.
Tenants Victoria are assisting BEEF and said they were not the only renters in trouble.
“This case is an example of how the cliff edge is looming for many renters as key pandemic protections for tenants, such as restrictions on evictions, fall away after March 28,” said Tenants Victoria CEO Jennifer Beveridge.
She said she was bracing for a surge of notices to vacate from March 29.
“This includes a legislative mechanism for VCAT to make decisions on ongoing COVID-related tenancy matters and consideration of extended financial supports for renters who are hurting from COVID-related loss of income.”
Speaking to commercial radio in Adelaide on Monday, the Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said they were “considering what other support measures we can provide across the economy” when JobKeeper ends in March.
“We can’t keep a wage subsidy economy wide going forever,” Mr Frydenberg said.
“It prevents labour mobility, it prevents people moving between jobs, and it might be propping about businesses that are no longer sustainable.”
The Victorian government said it will continue to monitor vulnerable tenants when the eviction moratorium ends.
“The new residential tenancies reforms, which start on March 29, will provide ongoing support to renters,” a government spokesperson said.
“For example, a renter cannot be evicted unless the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) decides that it is reasonable and proportionate in the circumstances.”