New laws introduced – more to do!

We continue to call for a limit on annual rent increases & ending no-cause evictions & energy efficiency minimum standards.

On Thursday 23rd May, The Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2024 (the Bill) was passed into law.

This is great news because there are significant improvements for Queensland renters in the package of reforms just passed and those which were made into law in October 2021. Not all changes will commence at the same time. Some of the changes will commence on Assent (6 June 2024), while other changes will start on Proclamation (date yet to be announced). Whilst there is more work to be done, now is a time to congratulate the government and all who supported the new laws.

Unfortunately, the proposals miss three critical issues required to bring greater stability and affordability to renting households across the state.

Along with the Making Renting Fair in Queensland Alliance Members, we will continue to campaign on three key issues through to the elections:
1. Limiting the amount that rents can rise
2. Truly ending without ground notices to leave (by prohibiting the use of ‘end of a fixed term’)
3. Energy efficiency minimum standards.

We know that without safe, stable and an affordable place to call home it is impossible for people and communities to thrive. Sign up to keep up to date with all the latest news about the Bill!

OUR ASKS

Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2024 was introduced into the Queensland Parliament on 21 March 2024 by the Hon Meaghan Scanlon, Minister for Housing, Local Government and Planning and Minister for Public Works.

This Bill modifies the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 (RTRA Act) to strengthen renters’ rights, provide better methods to resolve issues in tenancies, support private investment as well as stabilise rents in the private rental market.
The parliamentary committee was inviting submissions on any aspect of the Bill, from all interested parties.

The Bill was passed on the 23rd May 2024.

Your landlord must have a good reason to increase your rent above the cost-of-living index.
Your rent can only be increased once a year.

We are seeing unreasonable rent increases occurring across Queensland. Rental prices are increasing at over three times the rate of the cost-of-living index – an average of $104 per week. This is unsustainable.

If your landlord wants to increase your rent above the overall cost-of-living increase, there should be a good reason for it.

Good reasons include improvements to your home, such as upgrades to the kitchen or bathroom that add to the quality of the property and your experience as a tenant.

However, increases that are unreasonable, opportunistic, or akin to price gouging, should be unacceptable.

We’re calling for rent rises to be restricted to once per annum at the rate of CPI.

In addition, our laws should prohibit any practice where a landlord or agent solicits or invites any offer of an amount of rent that is higher than the advertised amount for rent.

Your bond should be automatically returned unless the landlord or agent provides evidence of the expenses they claim are owed.

Right now, it is a race between tenants and landlords to make the first claim on the bond at the end of a tenancy. This isn’t fair.

Your bond is your money, held by the government until your tenancy ends.

If your landlord thinks some of your bond should be awarded to them, they should have to make a claim, with evidence, otherwise, it should be automatically returned to you.

Prohibit terms in rental agreements that are one-sided and cause detriment to renters.
Empower you to take action when a contract is not fair.

Your rental agreement should not reduce your rights, or place unreasonable responsibilities on you. Unfortunately, some landlords and agents include unacceptable requirements in rental agreements, leaving renters with no choice but to agree.

Renters can be forced to take out specific insurances or be forced to indemnify the landlord – both of which are outside their responsibility as a tenant.

As a renter, you should be protected from these unfair contracts. That’s why we want to see unfair contract terms prohibited, and, when they appear in agreements, there needs to be a fair, practical way to have them removed by using the usual dispute channels.

Allow you to make minor modifications to improve safety and disability accessibility.
Require pre-disclosure of information about safety risks in your home, such as asbestos or flood risk, and crimes that have occurred at the premises.

Your home needs to meet your needs so you can live safely and independently.

One in twenty renters in Queensland live with a disability. It is only fair that Queenslanders with a disability can make minor modifications like lowering locks on windows, installing railing in the bathroom, or emplacing temporary ramps so ensure all parts of the property are accessible.

Similarly, many Queenslanders are cautious about their personal safety, especially survivors of domestic and family violence. Adjustments such as installing security cameras or screens on doors and windows are reasonable, and essential.

Other examples of reasonable safety adjustments include securing furniture against a wall.

Additionally, you deserve to know (before being bound to a tenancy contract) about safety risks at the property, such as asbestos or flood risk, and crimes that have occurred at the premises.

Allow you to make the place your home, with minor modifications like hanging pictures on the wall or creating a garden, by providing notice to the landlord or agent.

For a growing number of Queenslanders, renting is no longer a temporary option; it is a long-term necessity. Almost half the rental homes in Queensland are homes for children, and a growing number of older Queenslanders are renting.

People are not just renting a house – they are renting a home.

We need to be able to create homes for ourselves – hang pictures on the wall, decorate a room or make a garden – without unreasonable interference. Renters should be able to make these minor changes, following a notice to the agent or landlord.

Reasonably, renters would remain responsible to return the property in the same condition at the end of the tenancy.

Increase all 24-hour entry notice periods to 48 hours.
Limit questions on rental applications to those that are relevant to your household’s ability to maintain a property and pay rent.
Ensure your personal information is protected when landlords and agents use third-party platforms.

Whether it is for non-urgent repairs, a property valuation, or an inspection, it is only right that you receive adequate notice that someone will be entering your home.

To provide a reasonable notice time before an entry is made, we’re calling for an increase in the required notice period from 24 hours to 48 hours.

The information required on your rental application should reflect what is reasonably required to assess your proof of income and rental history. Unfortunately, some agents request unreasonable amounts of information, such as a full bank statements with day-to-day transactions, bond claims history, and details of previous tenancy disputes (even when the tenant was in the right).

This information is unnecessary when assessing a tenancy application and should be prohibited from the application process.

Technology plays an important role in all businesses. However, it should never be used at the cost of your privacy. Real estate agents are increasingly forcing renters to apply for a property, or during a tenancy using third-party platforms, collecting a great deal of personal data. Renters have no real ability to challenge privacy terms without fear of rejection or eviction. As a result, many renters release sensitive personal information, which often ends up on multiple databases, sometimes without even securing a tenancy or a viewing.

We’re calling on the government to improve privacy protections for renters and prospective renters by reviewing the use, disclosure and storage of personal information in the industry and improve privacy protections for renters.

Introduce a code of conduct and industry standards for landlords and agents.
Increased training for residential property managers.

We need shared standards and expectations around industry behaviour.

To increase accountability amongst landlords and agents we are calling for improved training in property management, as well as a code of conduct for the industry. This would set standards and expectations and provide renters with an avenue to challenge poor practice.

We are also calling for a register of landlords, for both short and long-term rentals to improve transparency and accountability. Such a register would be consistent with current requirements for rooming accommodation providers. A register would also provide surety that landlords and agents have undertaken training and are positioned to manage properties compliantly.