On Friday Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced that her government is delivering on its commitment to make renting fairer for Queenslanders with new legislation. However, the proposed reforms have received mixed reviews from both sides of the rental fence.
Ms Palaszczuk said: “The new laws provide a strong, balanced approach that protect the rights of renters and lessors, while improving stability in the rental market.”
She said: “Queenslanders rely on safe, secure and affordable housing and we are delivering on our election commitments to improve confidence in the rental market. We know that more Queenslanders are renting for longer which is why these reforms are so important.”
When Minister for Communities and Housing Leeanne Enoch introduced the tenancy law reforms into the Qld parliament, she said: “Our legislation strikes the right balance between the needs of the community, while also supporting continued investment in the housing market.”
These reforms are a progression of Stage 1 of the Palaszczuk Government’s rental law reforms, and “will ensure all Queensland rental properties meet minimum quality standards, will provide clarity about the end of a tenancy, and will make it easier for renters to have a pet”.
Ms Enoch said: “We are also ensuring people fleeing domestic and family violence are able to end a lease with seven days’ notice, to ensure there is no barrier to being able to end a lease quickly and safely.”
Some of the proposed renting reforms, such as the domestic and family violence measure, were tested during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ms Enoch added: “These reforms have been proposed following public consultation, to ensure all Queenslanders could have their say.
Micah Projects CEO Karyn Walsh agreed the domestic violence provisions in the Bill were vital during the COVID-19 health emergency.
She said: “I applaud the Government for ensuring that these provisions will remain in legislation. Being able to leave a tenancy without a financial burden is an important consideration for women and families fleeing domestic violence.”
Real Estate Institute of Queensland CEO Antonia Mercorella said the government consulted extensively with various stakeholders to seek a fair and balanced outcome in the renting reforms. She said: “We recognise that tenancy laws in Queensland must be modernised to keep pace with our changing rental landscape. In circumstances where 36 percent of our community rent their homes, the right regulatory framework is critically important to provide security and certainty to both tenants and owners.”
Some Landlords were outraged at what they consider to be an unfair bill. One landlord stated he feared “laws that keep being one-sided to the tenants are exactly why rental houses are becoming harder to find and more expensive”!
The biggest criticism from some landlords seems to be that giving tenants more rights mean taking away owners’ rights and therefore discouraging investors into the rental market.
Other Queensland landlords take a different view saying the reforms are “part of fair rules of engagement”.
One landlord stated: “Just because you own a property, actually doesn’t give you the right to treat tenants any way you please…”
Others worry that the reforms do not go far enough.
Community group Make Renting Fair Queensland were critical of what they see as “watered down” reforms. The group that the proposed legislation will instead “make it much more difficult for renters to get a fair go”.
They said: “Queensland renters aren’t asking for anything other than the laws to be more balanced rather than stacked heavily on the side of the well-funded real estate lobby.”
Establish minimum standards to ensure all Queensland rental properties meet standards for safety, security and functionality. This includes making sure accessible windows and doors have functioning latches, kitchen and laundry facilities are in good repair and do not present a safety risk with normal use, and properties are weatherproof and structurally sound.
Provide clear approved grounds for how a tenancy can be terminated. For a lessor, this can include: end of the agreed term under a fixed term lease, significant repair or renovation needing to occur, sale of property, and owner occupation. Lessors will also be able to seek an order from the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal to terminate the tenancy for significant or serious breach of the lease by a tenant. For a tenant, this can include: property not being in good repair and not complying with minimum standards, lessor provided false or misleading information about the lease or property, co-tenant is deceased.
A property owner will not be able to issue a notice to leave ‘without grounds’, providing tenants with more certainty.
A tenant can end their interest in a lease with seven days’ notice if they are unable to safely continue it because they are experiencing domestic and family violence.
If a tenant requests to keep a pet, a lessor must have reasonable grounds to refuse and respond in writing to this request within 14 days. Reasonable grounds include if the property is unsuitable, and if keeping the pet would breach laws or by-laws. Lessors can also place reasonable conditions on pet ownership, including that the pet is to be kept outside or that carpets are cleaned and the property is fumigated at the end of a lease. Rent increase is not a reasonable condition. The laws also clarify that fair wear and tear does not include pet damage.