“Emergency” response needed to help Geraldton tenants facing homelessness after rental eviction ban ends

Phoebe PinGeraldton Guardian
Michelle MacKenzie CEO Shelter WA outside Parliament House in Perth.
Camera IconMichelle MacKenzie CEO Shelter WA outside Parliament House in Perth. Credit: Ross Swanborough. 090519

Information hotlines have been flooded with calls from Geraldton tenants facing eviction this week, with industry experts saying immediate action is required to prevent a surge in homelessness.

Consumer Protection senior regional officer Kim Doble said many tenants had been calling the Geraldton office confused and concerned about the eviction process.

“They have received a notice of termination, they are worried that they are going to be thrown out straight away and that the landlord can come and change locks and kick them out,” she said.

“We just explain that there is a process in place and they can’t just come and kick them out.”

Get in front of tomorrow's news for FREE

Journalism for the curious Australian across politics, business, culture and opinion.


Ms Doble said “quite a few” tenants seeking advice from Consumer Protection had been forced to vacate on Monday.

But housing advocate group Just Home chairwoman Dr Naomi Godden said it would take weeks to comprehend how many people had been directly affected by the end of the moratorium on evictions.

It is gradual because some people have been given an eviction notice for mid-April or late April rather than the 29th of March.

Dr Godden wrote a Just Home report about the housing crisis in the Augusta-Margaret River region, with report findings recommending the extension of the moratorium on rent rises and evictions for another year. While this would not immediately solve the problem of low rental availability, Dr Godden said the extension would allow people who may be affected by cuts to welfare payments to remain in their homes until housing stock increased.

“It is really challenging to have JobKeeper and JobSeeker issues coinciding with the end of the moratorium,” she said.

“We are also seeing a huge upswing in the construction of housing over this next 12 months ... so if (the moratorium) was extended for another 12 months, we may have seen a more easing of the rental crisis,” she said.

Dr Naomi Godden
Camera IconDr Naomi Godden

Dr Godden said the State Government should also issue a “crisis emergency response” to address the specific needs of each community affected by housing shortages in WA.

“What this emergency response would look like would need to vary by community,” she said.

“It may well be the provision of shelters, temporary camp grounds, if people are not able to find a home.”

Affordable housing body Shelter WA chief executive Michelle MacKenzie said turning Geraldton’s vacant properties into social housing stock could help get renters into homes quickly.

“We did a heat map across the State and we found out that there are many vacant properties across all of WA, so we would ask the Government to start purchasing some vacant homes and use those for immediate social and affordable housing supply,” she said.

Ms McKenzie said many people on the waitlist for social and affordable housing were in private rentals, making it harder for middle-income workers to secure a cheap rental.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails