Tenant needs a rent reduction

Success Story - Meet Jane: Affording rent in the wake of COVID-19

Catriona King

Everyone has felt the devastating effects of COVID-19 in some way, with the retail and hospitality industry taking a particularly hard hit. Jane is just one of the many retail workers who went from having a stable, full-time contract at a popular clothing store, to being out of work indefinitely.

Like so many others, Jane’s loss of income made rent, food and bills increasingly less affordable. Beyond this, Jane’s income was helping to support her family overseas, a contribution that was becoming harder to make with her rent alone taking up 47% of the JobKeeper income she was receiving.

Jane’s position was not sustainable. While JobKeeper helped her get by, the anxiety and uncertainty surrounding when she would lose this support or be able to return to work led to Jane withdrawing some of her superannuation in preparation for the worst. But Jane recognised that even this was not enough to meet her rent: something had to be done.

Reaching out to Tenants Victoria, one of Anika’s partners, saw Jane being referred to our COVID-19 Rent Reduction Service. Due to language barriers, Jane’s friend Tom stepped up to represent Jane in her matter. I, Catriona King, was the Anika volunteer paralegal assigned to the matter and, with the help of Tom, I began to assist Jane with her case.

Through our discussions, I gained an understanding of Jane’s circumstances, which I then detailed to Anika’s supervising lawyer, Cameron Horn. With Cameron’s counsel, Jane was informed of her rights and provided legal advice to help take the next step towards a rent reduction – something that was becoming crucial with Jane on the verge of losing her JobKeeper eligibility.

On Jane’s behalf, a letter was sent to her landlord detailing her hardship and appealing to them to show compassion and offer a rent reduction. We also made sure that all of Jane’s queries and concerns were answered, providing her with a rent reduction guide and constant support to help her through the process.

Going into negotiations with her landlord, Jane requested a 25% reduction for 4 months. While her landlord was hesitant, after further negotiation her landlord agreed on a 28% reduction for 2 months. We advised Jane that if at the end of this period she is still out of work, we would be more than happy to support her in requesting a subsequent reduction.

For Jane, a 28% reduction means more security, the ability to pay her bills and support her family, and less anxiety in what is already a stressful and uncertain time.

If you or someone you know is facing financial distress and in need of a rent reduction, try our support service to help you negotiate with your landlord.

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