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Property Management Experts

Servicing Brisbane for 10+ years with local knowledge and maximum returns!

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Landlords in the house: The Queensland MPs with skin in the rental market

Landlords in the house: The Queensland MPs with skin in the rental market

30 September, 2022

About one-third of Queensland’s state MPs own at least one investment property, analysis of the most recent parliamentary declarations shows.

The details come ahead of scrutiny of a new Greens private member’s bill seeking a two-year rent freeze, and stage two of the Palaszczuk government’s slated rental reforms.

Brisbane experienced the highest annual rent increase of all capital cities in Domain’s recent July Rent Report, with the rest of Queensland experiencing higher median rent than regional areas in other states and territories.

Coupled with the pressures of rising inflation and lagging pace of new social housing, advocates are calling for governments to consider new measures to tackle rental affordability.

One such move – floated in a new bill by the Greens’ South Brisbane MP, Amy MacMahon, on Wednesday – is a two-year statewide freeze on residential rent increases.

While unlikely to pass through parliament, the bill proposes fines of more than $7000 for property owners who increase rents above the amount paid on August 1 this year, and those who move a property from the long- to short-term market.

Housing Minister Leeanne Enoch described the idea as “extremist”, suggesting such a move would force owners to take more properties out of the private rental market.

As many as 35 of the state’s 93 members of parliament could be among the owners affected, according to declarations on the register of MPs’ interests.

Brisbane Times analysis of the register shows that as of August 26, 27 MPs have explicitly declared interest in at least one investment or “rental” property, with some declaring up to four. A further eight MPs’ declarations were unclear about the nature of interest in one or more of the properties.

A total of 137 properties were declared among all MPs, with 79 of the 93 members owning their primary residence – well above the roughly two-thirds of the general population who do.

Twenty-nine MPs own two or more properties, and several have declared trusts with property interests.

Of Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s 18-person cabinet, six ministers declared a total of 11 investment properties. Palaszczuk owns two herself, with three each for Deputy Premier Steven Miles and Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace.

MacMahon and fellow Greens MP Michael Berkman were among the nine MPs with no declared property interests.

Speaking outside parliament on Wednesday after the government and opposition voted down urgent consideration of her bill — which will now go before a parliamentary committee — MacMahon said she thought the fact that MPs owned investment properties was a barrier to action.

While acknowledging that rents had risen considerably over the past two years, the Real Estate Institute of Queensland labelled the proposed freeze “out of touch” with the reality that rents had remained “relatively flat” over the past decade.

“From our reading, whether it’s their intention or not, this bill is likely to incite anger amongst the tenant community against property owners and further fuel the ‘us and them’ mentality that has emerged due to the pressures of the current rental crisis,” REIQ chief executive Antonia Mercorella said in a statement.

With the first tranche of rental reforms coming online from October 1, Enoch told parliament this week that consultation was “progressing” on stage two, which is slated to include support for “accessible and sustainable rental accommodation through effective bond, rent and tenure settings”.

Tenants Queensland has previously suggested landlords should be required to justify rent increases of more than 10 per cent above inflation, with differing views among experts on the benefits of a rent cap or freeze

The federal Greens have proposed a similar rent freeze, which has been hosed down by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.