A Change.org petition urging for all rents and mortgages to be frozen for the duration of COVID-19 has surpassed 100,000 signatures.

More than one in three people in Australia rent their homes, putting them in a highly vulnerable position should they lose their job amid the pandemic.

“Hundreds of small and medium businesses are unlikely to reopen with their current liabilities in place, the aftermath of which will be catastrophic and will impact all of society in Australia,” David Buchler, who started the petition on Change.org, wrote.

“We call on the government to bring in emergency legislation for banks to freeze mortgages and interests so landlords can freeze rents and families can stay in their homes while their livelihoods are under threat.

“By acting together, we can save many lives and livelihoods. By removing this financial stress our communities can focus on social distancing, staying healthy and helping each other. This is the only way to #flattenthecurve.”

Buchler urged our leaders to follow in Italy’s example and suspend mortgage repayments in an effort to soften the economic blow of the virus on households.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the state and territory leaders of the National Cabinet were set to discuss model rules for landlords and tenants on Tuesday night, but the meeting has since been pushed to today.

The prime minister called the situation a “complicated issue”. 

“You have a tenant, a landlord, you have creditors and all those issues and you need to solve the entire chain,” he said.

“It does involve both the commonwealth and the states working together.

“The states have the legislative authority when it comes to tenancies, both commercial and residential, and the Commonwealth has other incentives and levers it can pull to support and enable that chain of businesses and individuals who are caught up in the process where people are under rental stress,” he said.

At the time of writing, the Change.org petition has garnered more than 118,000 signatures. Dozens of people have shared their reasons for signing, many saying they’ve lost their job due to the pandemic and have no means to pay their rent. Others are uncertain about their future and some people just want to help.

You can check out the petition right here.

If you think you may have coronavirus, either call your doctor (DON’T visit) or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. If you’re struggling to breathe or experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.

And please remember to wash your hands frequently (for at least 20 seconds) and keep at least 1.5 metres between you and those around you.
Image: AAP / DAVID CROSLING