REIQ: No winners under QLD rental reforms

author-avatar By on November 22,2019
REIQ: No winners under QLD rental reforms

Brisbane. Photo by Brisbane Local Marketing on Unsplash

The Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) has slammed changes to Queensland rental legislation, labelling them reckless and damaging.

Over the weekend the Palaszczuk Government announced the changes, which it said were to ensure safety and fairness in the community.

Some of the laws under the proposed reform include: the loss of a landlord’s right to refuse pets; the introduction of a tenant right to make modifications to a rental property without the landlord’s consent; and the introduction of minimum housing standards requiring the rental property and its inclusions to meet prescribed standards and to be in a certain state of repair.

But REIQ CEO Antonia Mercorella said the proposed reforms will see landlord rights diminished and the ripple effect will cause renters to be similarly affected.

“Under the reforms, landlords will see their fundamental rights eroded, making property investment far less appealing, and as a result, we’ll almost certainly see investment levels drop,” Ms Mercorella said.

Ms Mercorella said by the Minister for Housing and Public Works, Mick de Brenni’s own admission, the reforms would increase weekly rent from an average of $360 per week to $378, a 5% increase.

She’s labelled the most damaging reform as the proposed abolishment of a landlord’s right to not renew a tenancy agreement at the end of its agreed term.

The recommended changes state “owners would no longer be able to end a tenancy without a valid reason” and “the list of reasons that an owner can provide would be extended and enhanced.”

Ms Mercorella said in practice, this would allow a tenant to remain in a tenancy indefinitely and for as long as they want unless the landlord can establish a reason prescribed by law.

“This reform has been cleverly disguised by the Palaszczuk Government as the abolishment of ‘without grounds terminations or evictions’,” Ms Mercorella said.

“That description is inaccurate and misleading.

“Under current rental laws, landlords cannot end a fixed-term tenancy agreement before it ends unless a breach has occurred.”

REIQ claims vs Government proposals

REIQ statement on reforms

Landlords will lose the right to refuse pets

Proposals allow for the introduction of a tenant’s right to make modifications to a rental property without the landlord’s consent

Proposals allow for the introduction of a minimum housing standard requiring the rental property and its inclusions to meet prescribed standards and to be in a state of repair

QLD Government proposed reforms

Will require an owner to have reasonable grounds for refusing a tenant’s request to keep a pet

Minor modifications requiring no approval include:

  • health & safety modifications
  • accessibility modifications
  • security modifications
  • modifications to provide access to basic telecommunications

All rental properties would need to meet certain standards addressing:

  • weatherproofing and structural soundness
  • plumbing and damage
  • security
  • the standard of repair of fixtures and fittings
  • control of pests and vermin
  • ventilation, lighting and privacy
  • cooking and food preparation facilities

Reforms aimed at protecting the community

Minister de Brenni said the changes came as a result of community consultation, with over 135,000 responses submitted.

“Through that process, we’ve identified three key areas for reform,” Minister de Brenni said.

  1. “Safety and security;
  2. Protection against domestic violence; and
  3. Protections if renting with pets.

“We have considered evidence of some truly harrowing stories of safety issues in rental properties.”

Deputy Premier, Treasurer and Member for South Brisbane Jackie Trad said the Palaszczuk Government was looking at a comprehensive makeover of tenancy laws.

“Tenants in my community and across Queensland are entitled to feel safe in their home, regardless of whether they own or rent,” Ms Trad said.

“At the same time, we know that rental property owners need safeguards to protect their investment that provides much-needed housing for an increasing number of Queenslanders.”

Legislation labelled “horrid”

Head of Research at Propertyology Simon Pressley echoed the REIQ’s concerns and said that heavy-handed legislation for anything rarely achieves sustainable outcomes that satisfy stakeholders.

“One must consider that, to purchase an investment property, there’s been a lot of hard work, financial discipline, and financial sacrifice,” Mr Pressley said.

“There should be no surprises about landlords getting more than a tad upset at the thought of being told what they can and can’t do with something they’ve worked so hard to buy.”

Mr Pressley said rental legislation is not just in need of improvement in Queensland, but across the board nationally.

“Yes, the sector can be improved. But, as someone with firsthand experience helping property investors nationally, I can assure you that Queensland’s existing rental legislation isn’t any better or worse than elsewhere,” he said.

“My personal view is that the real estate industry in every Australian state would be wise to bring the topic of pets in rental properties into the 21st century.

“There will be all-round benefits if the industry helped to educate landlords about the importance of pets to some tenants and the benefits to both parties if tenancy applications with pets are given deeper consideration.”

Ms Mercorella said the State Government seemed to be repeating the mistake of Federal Labour in the last election by attacking residential property investors.

“Alarmingly, these reforms go even further than tinkering with negative gearing by directly compromising the viability of property investment in Queensland.”

The REIQ and other stakeholders have expressed concerns about the timing of these reforms, which have been released just before Christmas, with minimal consultation.

“Given the significance of these reforms, we are incredibly disappointed that the Minister is offering a mere six-week consultation process after waiting a year to announce these reforms,” Ms Mercorella said.

“These proposed rental reforms represent the most significant changes to tenancy laws in Queensland’s history.

“If enacted, we will see property owners lose control of their investment, incur substantial additional costs and be exposed to higher levels of risk.”

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Alex joined in 2019. He is passionate about providing Australians with the information and tools needed to make them financially stable for their futures.

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