Queensland Premier Steven Miles has announced a series of reforms for the rental sector, aimed at enhancing fairness and security for tenants.
The changes, part of the Miles Government's Homes for Queenslanders plan, appear to be a response to the continuous concerns of renters ahead of this year’s state election.
The rental market will influence the vote of more than half of Queensland tenants, according to 1,000 renters surveyed by InfoChoice, as more renters there worry about becoming homeless than in any other state.
“Our plan makes sure Queensland renters get a fair go and have the supports they need to ease the cost of keeping a roof over their head,” Mr Miles said.
“Through this package, we hope to ease the cost of getting into a home and help renters to save the money they need for a house deposit.”
The state government noted that these changes could help ease the minds of tenants as they wait for the strain on housing supply to ease.
However, Propertology head of research Simon Pressley told Savings.com.au the plan is the latest chapter of a nationwide housing crisis that began nearly a decade ago, driven by increasing limitations on property investors and a lack of government-built housing.
“92% of Australia's total rental pool of 3.5 million properties are funded by everyday Aussies,” he said.
“The reason so many people are living in makeshift accommodation and that rents have increased so much is because active tenants have been forced to compete in a rental pool which is far too shallow.
“From a Queensland perspective, in a state of 5.5 million people, the state government currently contributes a grand total of just 62,000 properties, many of which we assume to be little more than a modest one-bedder.”
So, what changes have been put forward? And what might they mean for you if you’re a renter in the Sunshine State? Let’s dive in.
Rent bidding banned
First off, rent bidding is off the table.
In a market where competition is fierce – Brisbane has one of the nation’s lowest rental vacancy rates, at just 0.8% in January, as per Domain – this is likely a welcome change for many.
‘Rent bidding’ means to offer more than the advertised weekly rent for a property in order to secure it.
Agents found to be dealing in rent bidding in Queensland will soon face penalties under the state government’s plan.
Further, a slight tweak will see property investors unable to increase rent on a property more than once a year, even if the tenancy changes hands.
Portable bond scheme
Being out of pocket for two bonds simultaneously could also be a thing of the past in Queensland, with the state looking to implement a ‘portable bond scheme’.
The scheme hopes to allow tenants to transfer their bonds from one property to another.
Until its established, the state government will offer a Bridging Bond Loan product, which could help tenants pay for a new bond while they wait to get their old one back.
Cracking down on dodgy property managers & landlords
The Queensland Government will also explore a rental sector code of conduct in an effort to crack down on property managers and landlords engaging in dodgy and unprofessional practices.
We are bringing in a rental code of conduct to crack down on dodgy and unprofessional practices. pic.twitter.com/Ec0NQsnvBF— Meaghan Scanlon MP (@meaghan_scanlon) February 4, 2024
“Stronger rules for rental property investors and managers will be developed, with penalties for those who don’t comply, so Queensland renters feel secure and protected,” Queensland minister for housing, local government and plan, and public works Meaghan Scanlon said.
$160 million of support for Queensland tenants
Finally, the state government will put $160 million towards a ‘renters relief package’ over five years.
The funds will help support more than 20 private markets products and services, aimed to help more Queenslanders get and keep rental properties.
On top of that, the number of specialised customer service staff in the state’s Housing Service Centres are expected to be doubled.
Other changes proposed by the Queensland Government include new amendments to make it easier for tenants to modify rental properties, extending notice time for entry to a rental property to 48 hours, and standardising the rental application process.
Housing development 'key pillar' of Queensland plan
A “key pillar” of the Homes for Queenslanders plan is building more homes, more quickly, Mr Miles said.
The state government has promised $350 million for an infrastructure fund to encourage market-feasible infill development, in hopes it will see development in under-utilised areas.
Development proposals must offer smaller, more affordable, and well-located housing options to qualify for the funding.
The government is also looking to encourage development of social and affordable housing on state-owned land through a pilot ground lease model and is cutting red tape to speed up land permitting processes.
However, the plan has been criticised by the Queensland opposition.
The state's shadow minister for housing and public works Tim Mander posted to X following the announcement, writing “while they announce another plan, Labor must explain to Queenslanders what happened to all their other plans”.
Throughout their decade in power, Queenslanders have seen Labor announce countless housing roundtables and plans.— Tim Mander (@TimManderMP) January 31, 2024
Today while they announce another plan, Labor must explain to Queenslanders what happened to all their other plans👇 #qldpol pic.twitter.com/w2wedNjBhx
While others on the platform question whether banning rent bidding will result in advertised rental costs climbing.
“Politicians are great at standing on a podium and flapping their gums about something they claim to have done to improve housing supply, but the combined state, territory, and federal governments have added just 85,000 out of 3.6 million new homes over the last 20-years,” Mr Pressley said.
“Rental suppliers have been bashed with baseball bats throughout the last nine years.
“Until such time as baseball bats are replaced with carrots, the rental pool will get shallower and shallower and the societal aggravation will continue to intensify.”
Meanwhile, Queensland opposition leader David Crisafulli promises that, if his government wins the upcoming election, it will increase the threshold for the state’s first home buyer stamp duty exemption.
Right now, it is only available on properties worth up to $500,000, while discounts are available for those worth up to $550,000.
We're determined to make the dream of home ownership a reality for more Queenslanders.— David Crisafulli (@DavidCrisafulli) January 29, 2024
That's why an @LNPQLD Government will lift the stamp duty threshold for first home buyers. pic.twitter.com/aDG0rk4kEW
Mr Pressley labelled stamp duty a “draconian dream destroyer”.
“Labor or Liberal, only a hypocrite could stand on a podium and utter words implying ‘care or support’ for housing needs while still standing by stamp duty of any kind,” he said.
Image by Finn on Unsplash