The Victorian Government has announced a one-time payment of $1,500 for Victorians as a form of rent relief for those who have lost work during the COVID-19 pandemic. But the eligibility requirements in place make it difficult to claim these payments at all.

Housing Minister Richard Wynne announced the rent lifeline for Victorians on Monday, as a means to support those in crisis who may not be able to make ends meet.

Anyone who spends more than 30% of their income on rent will be deemed eligible for the rent relief package, as well as anyone who has lost at least 20% of their income due to lockdown restrictions.

The payments will be made directly to landlords to help pay rent, so while it won’t be money that you can use how you desire, it will definitely provide some short-term support.

However, the grant is a one-off payment, which may not provide much support for Victorians, especially with the lockdown being extended until September 23 (and possibly longer).

On top of this, there’s a catch that may see thousands of Victorians missing out on payments.

Thing is, there’s a savings threshold in place that also keeps individuals out of eligibility. If you have more than $2000 in savings, you’re cut off, no matter how difficult your rent situation may be.

In response to the grants, the Victorian Greens will be introducing a bill to Parliament tomorrow that will ensure even greater protections for renters, because what we’ve received doesn’t quite hit the mark.

The proposed bill looks to ban evictions, freeze rent increases and remedy the savings threshold to make the payments available to more Victorians. Sounds great because it is.

“We know these restrictions are important to keep us safe, but we also know that many renters have lost work and income as a result of them,” said Samantha Ratnam, leader of the Victorian Greens. 

“That’s why the government must do what it can to make sure no renter has the prospect of eviction or mounting debts looming over their head. 

“Our bill would make sure evictions are banned during the pandemic, and that landlords aren’t able to increase the rent for those facing hard financial times. It would also make it easier for renters to negotiate rent reductions with their landlords.”

We’ll have to see how the proposed bill goes tomorrow, as it could very well change how many Victorians are able to access grants.

Image: Getty Images / Asanka Ratnayake