Given the rising number of renting Australians, several state governments introduced a slew of changes to their tenancy laws, intending to boost the rights of the tenants — but will the changes discourage property investors?
While the extent of the changes in each state varies, the primary goals of the reforms were to limit rent increases and give tenants the power to make minor modifications.
New regulations already took effect in the Australian Capital Territory in November. Under the changes, rent increases outside fixed-term agreements are capped to one per year. ACT will also allow landlords to refuse consent to tenants who are planning to make modifications, provided that they obtain approval from the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
This year, the key changes to New South Wales and Victoria's tenancy laws will come into effect.
In NSW, landlords must ensure that their properties are "structurally sound". Furthermore, they will not be allowed to prevent tenants from making minor renovations.
In Victoria, tenants will be allowed to make minor changes to the property even without the consent of their landlords. The state's changes will also prevent landlords from evicting without cause at the end of a fixed-term agreement.
Queensland is also planning to update its tenancy laws, which are now under consultation. Under the proposed changes, landlords in Queensland will also lose their power to evict tenants after a fixed-term deal.
Propertyology director Simon Pressley said the changes seem to be "heavy-handed" and could even discourage investment and push up prices.
For instance, owning a pet is also one of the heavily-discussed issues, with some changes preventing landlords from prohibiting pets under rental agreements.
"The reality is pets can cause damage to a property. The legislation can say whatever it wants about pets, but that's a fact. So I think it is completely wrong for any state government, at any time, to say, 'we're going to pass some legislation that removes the right of the asset owner to say yes or no to pets'," he told The New Daily.
Pressley said boosting the engagement between landlords and tenants would be able to make the dynamics better than imposing the "heavy-handed" changes.
Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) Media and Communications Manager Nicole Madigan said the changes seem to undermine the rights of the landlords to their properties.
"If enacted, the law change would erode fundamental landlord rights and deter property investment across the state. The reforms' ripple effect would see renters struggling to find suitable housing under already tight conditions," Madigan said, adding that the proposed changes were "reckless".