The Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) and the Queensland Government hosted a heated town hall meeting in Brisbane today to get community feedback on proposed reforms to Queensland's rental legislation.
The changes were touted by the Government as necessary for safety and fairness, but have been criticised heavily by the REIQ who started an online campaign to protest them, currently boasting over 7,000 supporters.
Some of the proposed reforms include:
- the abolishment of a landlord's right to not renew a tenancy agreement at the end of its agreed term;
- the loss of a landlord's right to refuse pets; and
- the introduction of a tenants right to make modifications to a rental property without the landlord's consent.
REIQ CEO Antonia Mercorella and Queensland Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni both addressed the crowd on their view of the reforms before opening up the floor.
Tensions ran high as Minister de Brenni fielded a number of questions from the 100-odd strong crowd, who increasingly voiced their displeasure over what they deemed as insufficient responses to their concerns.
Ms Mercorella and Minister de Brenni found common ground on the reform to have properties meet a minimum quality standard but little else, with the minister repeatedly pointing to the Consultation Regulatory Impact Statement in response to questions.
When quizzed on the motivation behind the abolishment of a landlord's right to not renew a tenancy agreement at the end of its agreed term, the Minister responded, "because we think it's reasonable that there is a valid and lawful reason to do so".
In response, Ms Mercorella said that any landlord in their right mind does not want to boot a tenant or have a vacant property.
"The other thing is that at the end of the term, if that tenant has paid their rent on time and cared for the property and they want an extension, a landlord will grant that extension every time," Ms Mercorella said.
Government cites reforms as good for all, but REIQ disagrees
Ms Mercorella said the REIQ acknowledged that balancing the rights and obligations of both renters and owners could be incredibly challenging, but the reforms too heavily favoured tenants.
"It is the role of responsible government to recognise that a healthy rental market relies on sensible practical and fair laws," she said.
"It is simply not good enough - it is not fair - to design legislation that erodes the rights of one party in order to favour or benefit another, and that's what these proposed rental reforms seek to do."
She also said the REIQ had long championed the rights of tenants and landlords alike and agreed that reforms were necessary.
Minister de Brenni agreed, and said the reforms were in need of modernisation, with 2016 reforms rubbished in favour of a more thorough process that engaged the community.
"Last time we had reform was 50 years ago, so we want these reforms to stand the test of time," he said.
The minister said government research found the average tenancy in Queensland was 13 months, and it took 22 days to find a new tenant, which equated to an average loss of $1,512 for owners.
He said the reforms were aimed at lengthening the time that good tenants stayed in properties, hence reducing landlord losses.
"We understand that for many of you, this loss is factored in to your property investment but significant losses aren't factored into all property investment and when it blows out to months, which it can do quite often, that can be a lot more painful than what you planned."
He said government analysis found the only loss investors would experience from these reforms would be associated with costs to bring properties up to minimum standards.
"That analysis showed property owners shouldn't expect extra costs as a result of these reforms, unless you're one of the 6% of Queensland property owners that rents out property that requires upgrades to meet minimum basic safety and amenities conditions."
Additionally, Minister de Brenni said that lengthened tenancy would help reduce removal costs for tenants, which even when not using a removalist cost around $1,600 each time.
Submissions to provide feedback on the reforms close on 28 December, with the proposals then going to Queensland State Parliament for debate.
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