VERTO has seen an increase in demand for its Tenants' Advice and Advocacy services, with the COVID-19 pandemic impacting vulnerable community members across the Bathurst, Orange, Wagga Wagga, Goulburn and Albury regions.

Since the pandemic hit in February, more and more people have relied on the free tenancy service, with VERTO figures revealing that more than 55 per cent of all its cases from the past 12 months are new clients that have not used or required the service ever before.

Whilst VERTO CEO Ron Maxwell welcomed the added protection provided by the Australian Government to assist tenants impacted by COVID-19 financially, he remains concerned that the updated protections do not cover all evictions and are leaving some tenants extremely vulnerable.

“During these difficult times, I hoped that we would see tenants and landlords work together to provide the right solution to allow people to keep a roof over their heads,” Mr Maxwell said.

“While the majority of people have worked on solutions that suit both parties, unfortunately there have been a number of cases where we have seen the opposite, which highlights how vital these services are for the Bathurst, Orange, Wagga Wagga, Goulburn and Albury communities.”

Mr Maxwell said he was proud that VERTO continued to assist some of the region’s most vulnerable people, and encouraged anyone needing help or advice to come forward.

“Some sections of our local communities are already more susceptible to challenges such as unemployment, which has escalated dramatically because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

“When in danger of losing your home this can put enormous stress on families and can lead to some very real and dangerous challenges.

“VERTO understands this, and with the support of NSW Fair Trading, we have been able to increase funding and deliver more services to those who need it the most.

“If you need help, please come and see us. The service is free of charge and we are here to help and look forward to having constructive conversations with landlords in the interests of both parties.”

The Tenants' Advice and Advocacy service is delivered by VERTO across South West New South Wales and is funded by NSW Fair Trading. For more information on VERTO’s Tenants' Advice and Advocacy service, visit https://www.verto.org.au/our-services/tenants-advice-and-advocacy.