Tenants face uncertain future after COVID-19 stops business
CONSTANT changes to COVID-19 restrictions has left Mackay residents stressed and confused.
For those now jobless, some welcome relief was announced last week in the form of a six month moratorium on evictions, meaning tenants unable to pay their rent could not be kicked out.
For many, this was a lifeline when they needed it most.
But despite the public announcement, the government is yet to put their words into action.
The Real Estate Industry of Queensland has confirmed the six-month moratorium on residential and commercial evictions has not been put into an official legislation, meaning landlords are still able to evict their tenants at any time.
"So far the only stimulus available, other than Centrelink, is the surprise $2000 payment for those who have lost their jobs," an REIQ spokesman said.
"That payment will go straight to the lessor."
Mackay business owner Skye Msaro is anxious about the future after making the decision to close her salon Avaia Hair until further notice.
The business will no longer make an income but Ms Msaro was still slapped with a $4000 rent bill this week.
The expectant mother said she had no choice but to close her salon, with the health and safety of her staff and clients the most important thing.
She is one of many tenants in the region who is juggling the devastation of losing their job with the stress of paying weekly bills.
"It was not an easy decision to shut the salon but it was too difficult to practise social distancing when you still have to touch a client's hair all day," Ms Msaro said.
"We really were all wondering why the government was allowing hairdressers to stay open, so my staff were very supportive of my choice because they understood it was for safety.
"The past week has been extremely unsettling for everyone because the government has been going back and forward with their rules so rapidly."
Ms Msaro said she was now trying to plan for the next few months. She has reached out to her landlord to ask for a rent reduction and contacted Centrelink.
"I received a $4000 bill for rent this week and was told by my landlord that they would look into their options," she said.
"I am hoping that some more government stimulus is announced soon that will support both tenants and landlords, because we both have bills to pay.
"I hope that we can come to a compromise because the last thing I want to do is move out of this space and not have a business to come back to when all of this is over."
Despite the "extremely stressful" time, Ms Msaro said she was focusing on being innovative during the pandemic and creating online learning for her staff and an online platform for her clients.
She said she was lucky that the government was offering a jobkeeper stimulus package because keeping 11 staff employed would have been impossible otherwise.
"Unfortunately there will be a lot of local businesses that can't come back from this," she said.
"All we can do is be positive and aim to be bigger and better when we reopen."