25 Oct 2018

Premier asks for public advice on potential statewide rental reforms

A third of Queenslanders live in rental properties yet even the Premier admits the state's tenancy laws are stuck in the 1970s.

The state government planned to consult with renters, landlords and real estate agents this week in readiness for reforms to residential tenancy laws for renters and property owners.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the government would focus on gathering opinions on how the market was changing and how well the system was working.

"The last full-scale review and changes to the tenancy regulations dates back to 1970s. It’s well and truly time for another now," she said.

But the Real Estate Institute of Queensland has its doubts after two previous reviews of the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act failed to lead to meaningful change.

"Queensland has one of the highest proportions of people renting in Australia, and many will rent for part or all of their lives," Ms Palaszczuk said.

"Currently, 34 per cent of Queensland households are finding their homes in the rental market and many are renting for longer. In fact, 43 per cent of tenants have been renting for over 10 years."

A 2017 survey by Choice, National Shelter, and National Association of Tenant Organisations showed the top concerns from tenants were a fear being blacklisted on a tenancy database, waiting for urgent repairs and living in a home with maintenance issues.

Rental property owners have also expressed concern that when things go wrong, such as rent arrears or evicting tenants, it comes at a high cost that exceeds the value of the rental bond.

Housing and Public Works Minister Mick de Brenni said he wanted to find out how to better enforce people's rights.

"Many tenants have raised with me that it is difficult to hang your kids' school photos or paintings on the wall in rental properties," he said.

"Property owners have raised with me that they want to see regular inspections to properties and for repairs to be addressed more quickly to ensure their investments are protected."

REIQ chief executive Antonia Mercorella said the Newman LNP government and the Palaszczuk Labor government in its first term had announced similar reviews that had led to frustration.

"This review has been ongoing since 2012. I’m not sure why it has not been finalised, but I suspect it's because it's a very difficult issue," she said.

"Housing is a highly personal and emotional issue whether you rent or own the roof over your head, because housing is important for the security of ourselves and our loved ones.

"We're concerned that some of the proposals are focused on tenants' rights and it's important for the state government to understand that there are both tenants and landlords.

"With more Queenslanders renting and the vast majority catered for by private landlords, we also need a framework to encourage longer-term rentals."

Ms Mercorella said she wanted a potential pet bond to be examined to encourage more landlords to allow tenants to have pets.

"The challenge landlords have is that the act is quite inflexible so they can't charge extra bond or extra insurance for pets," she said.

"They have to make the decision whether to allow tenants to have pets and accept the potential risks such as damaged floorboards, fleas or infestation and damaged backyards.

"Landlords are more likely to be open and flexible on this issue if they can come together with the tenants and reach mutual decision to manage the additional risk that might come with pets."

Ms Mercorella also hoped for clearer guidelines on "emergency repairs" in order to minimise the number of disputes between tenants and landlords.

"Where problems are created is when tenants want a particular repair done which they believe they're entitled to ask for, the landlord has a different view and the property managers have to try and figure out who is right," she said.

"We want to see consultation around developing regulations which see the minimum housing standards limited to matters of safety and property structure, not aesthetics and energy efficiency."

Ms Mercorella also called for a review of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act to look at giving QCAT extra resources to reduce the wait times being experienced in resolving current rental property disputes.

SOURCE ; https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/queensland/premier-asks-for-public-advice-on-potential-statewide-rental-reforms-20180930-p506y4.html

 

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