New QLD rental laws could be bad for both tenants and landlords, REIQ says

The Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) is promising that the proposed reforms to rental laws in Queensland will become a live election issue if they go ahead. The controversial new tenancy laws have resulted in almost 8,000 letters being sent to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, arguing that the proposed changes take away fundamental rights.

Many landlords have said that they are prepared to sell their investments or rent them out on Airbnb, because they would be too financially exposed if they were unable to choose who lives in their investment properties (and for how long). In light of this, as many as 30,000 homes are predicted to be pulled from the rental market, leading to a potential rental increase of up to $100 a week.

The REIQ has promised the reforms will become a live election issue backed by a “furious campaign” if the State Government does not listen.

Chief among their complaints is the abolishment of end dates on fixed-term contracts, with owners to be barred from asking tenants to vacate just because the date of their contract is up. Instead, they will need to rely on specific reasons with proof, including that significant renovations are planned, their family is set to move in, the house has been sold, or if there has been a significant breach of the tenancy agreement. They are also angry over a requirement for owners to allow pets unless they have reasonable grounds for refusing.

However, they back changes that would make it easier for a domestic violence victim to break a lease with seven days’ notice.

Other notable changes include:

  • Landlords can’t refuse requests for minor modifications to their property unless the work is unsafe, they have a QCAT order to refuse the changes, it would cause irreversible damage, or they have “reasonable grounds” to refuse, and
  • Co-tenants can give 21 days notice of their intention to vacate.

REIQ chief executive Antonia Mercorella said the changes put all the power in renters’ hands, in a virtually lifelong right to rent.

However, the REIQ have also voiced concerns for tenants. They believe that the proposed changes will disproportionately harm young people, contract workers and other ‘undesirables’, because landlords will become too gun-shy.

“Tenants will be put through a far more gruelling selection process because you might be stuck with them for life,” Antonia Mercorella said.

“Obviously that’s going to be incredibly difficult, particularly for tenants who don’t have a good, strong rental history or their financial resources might not be as strong as other applicants. It might be difficult for young people, casual workers, contract workers.”

But groups including Tenants Queensland and the Queensland Council of Social Service back the changes as giving certainty to tenants who constantly have to move and want protections extended.

Housing Minister Mick de Brenni said the Government would consider the 15,800 responses before announcing an equitable outcome.

What do you think of these proposed changes? Let us know in the comments.

Written: 3 February 2020, Updated: 7 February 2020

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