Fewer than one in 10 renters who lost income due to the coronavirus pandemic received a rent reduction they were satisfied with, according to a survey by renters advocacy group Better Renting.
It found 63 per cent of renters surveyed had lost income due to the pandemic, but of those only one in two asked for a rent reduction. There were 967 renters surveyed across Australia.
Of those who had lost income, only 9 per cent received a satisfactory reduction, 20 per cent had their reductions refused and 7.5 per cent had their rent deferred.
One of the survey respondents who had a reduction refused said it took more than a fortnight for her request to be acknowledged.
"I asked for a rent reduction as soon as I lost my job over two months ago. They didn't get back to me for 15 days, didn't send me editable forms and asked for all my bank statements, asked me to withdraw my super," the respondent said.
"It was awful. They still rejected my request."
Renters were worried about what could happen when eviction moratoriums were lifted, Better Renting executive director Joel Dignam said.
"It's a terribly stressful situation for renters. For most renters having an eviction notice land in the letterbox is their worst fear," he said.
"Many tenants who are out of work and out-of-pocket due to the coronavirus crisis face dire circumstances if eviction moratoriums are lifted in September and October."
Mr Dignam said there were concerns from tenants about what will happen when the JobSeeker rate is cut in September. He called for it to be kept at the current rate of $1100 a fortnight.
"Australia was in the grip of a housing affordability crisis before the pandemic hit. Rental costs have been rising faster than wages for decades [and] now many renters find themselves spending more than 50 per cent of their income on rent," he said.
"With so few landlords giving rent reductions and so many renters losing income we are worried about a situation where renters are getting into debt and possibly losing their homes."
There were 139 people from the ACT surveyed. It showed Canberra renters were less likely to have lost income and were less likely to ask for a rental reduction, 70 per cent of those who lost income did not ask for a reduction.
"It makes sense that ACT renters are less likely to have lost income as there would be a greater number of people working in more secure employment," Mr Dignam said.
"As for why ACT renters were less willing to ask for a rent reduction it's hard to say. The ACT has a particularly tight rental market and it may be that renters were very aware of the risks if they did speak out."
The ACT's eviction moratorium is set to be lifted on October 22. The ACT Legislative Assembly's select committee into the COVID-19 response has recommended renters not be evicted due to arrears accrued during this time.