Queensland's efforts to make a fairer rental market through reforms in tenancy laws could still end up being unfair to property owners.
The Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) said the Housing Legislation Amendment Bill 2021, which the state parliament recently passed, encumbers owners with tedious requirements and erodes their contractual rights.
In a nutshell, the tenancy reforms will remove the ability for lessors to end tenancies without grounds and will make it easy for renters to keep a pet.
REIQ CEO Antonia Mercorella said these two changes are the most damaging changes to the tenancy laws.
"Property owners have lost the right to end a periodic tenancy by providing notice. Tenants will however retain this right," she said.
"Unless owners can establish limited prescribed grounds, they will never be able to terminate a periodic tenancy."
Ms Mercorella said this is a retrograde step and could result in the demise of periodic tenancies in Queensland.
"This reform will detrimentally impact tenants who are seeking maximum flexibility and would prefer not to commit to a fixed term tenancy," she said.
Furthermore, a no-pet policy will now be a no-go for property owners.
“Although tenants will still need to seek approval for pets, owners will only be able to decline the request if they can establish prescribed grounds," Ms Mercorella said.
Efforts to balance the proposals
Still, Ms Mercorella acknowledged the improvements in the proposed changes to tenancy laws, showing that the state is trying to provide balance.
"The REIQ welcomes the greater statutory clarification the Bill provides in relation to minimum housing standards," she said.
"Tenants have an absolute right to feel safe and secure in their homes and these provisions ensure that there is a clear standard for the condition of the premises and its inclusions together with compliance measures to enforce the new standards."
Furthermore, property owners now retain the right to end a fixed tenancy agreement at the end of the agreed term.
It was previously proposed that tenants would have a unilateral right to determine the length of the tenancy agreement.
Minister for Communities and Housing Leeanne Enoch said the current proposals that passed the parliament would benefit over a third of Queensland households who rent and the owners who provide rental properties.
"This legislation strikes the right balance between the needs of the community, while also supporting continued investment in the private rental market," she said.
Ms Enoch also noted of the provision for renters to end their lease with seven days’ notice if they are experiencing domestic and family violence.
Need for fairer proposals
Despite the current set of proposals being a huge improvement from the initial set-up, Ms Mercorella circled back to the need for a fairer set of rules that would now erode investor confidence.
"Around 36% of Queenslanders rent their homes and the majority of that housing is provided by everyday mum and dad investors," she said.
"We can’t have onerous legislation that strips owners of their rights and undermines their right to effectively manage an asset that they’ve worked hard to acquire."
Ms Mercorella said for many investors, this proposed bill will be the "final straw" that would drive their decision to hold their properties or sell.
"The ripple effect of this could see renters struggling to find suitable housing under already tight conditions," she said.
"With the current state of Queensland’s rental market, it’s imperative that we don’t further discourage property rentals at this time."
Photo by Surface on Unsplash.