Last Friday, the Minister for Housing, Leeanne Enoch introduced proposed legislation that would see tenants at the whim of the well-funded real estate lobby.
The Make Renting Fair Queensland campaign, supported by over 50 community organisations, have come out today outlining their disappointment with the mixed bag of changes, after two and a half years of waiting, the government’s new proposed legislation.
Penny Carr, CEO of Tenants Queensland, the state’s tenant advisory specialists, supported the government’s move to make rentals more pet friendly and introduce minimum standards, but expressed strong concern for the lack of protections for battling renters from unfair evictions.
“Our staff received over 14,000 calls in March this year. This just shows how many Queensland renters, and their families are in housing distress and are facing crisis point.
Ms Carr is concerned the proposal have been watered down to the point they undermine the current tenancy laws, by introducing more grounds to end tenancies when the tenant is not in breach.
“We advocated new grounds to end tenancies, but only with the view to removing the ability to end tenancies without grounds. The government have done the former but not the latter.
Make Renting Fair is concerned the proposed legislation was watered down following a scare campaign run by the well-funded real estate lobby.
The ability to undertake minor modifications have been removed from the proposals completely. Paige Armstrong, CEO of Queenslanders with Disability Network worries that people with disability will be impacted by this.
“Minor modifications like the addition of a shower or other rails make places safer for tenants with little impact upon the appearance and structural integrity of a property.
“What we hear from our members is that they are often reluctant to contact their real estate in fear of a backlash like ending their tenancy or not renewing their lease,” Ms Armstrong commented.
People experiencing domestic and family violence and older women are among the people reliant on private rental homes. Fiona Caniglia, Director of Q Shelter said the proposals include very important protections for people experiencing domestic violence. However, without protection from unfair evictions, many people will continue to live in properties in poor repair and be forced to move frequently. This causes poverty and people experience significant instability.
“We know that older women are one of the fastest growing groups of people facing homelessness across our state. These are women who have worked their entire lives, raised families, paid taxes and they are left with virtually nothing and sometimes, not even with a place to call home,” Ms Caniglia said.
Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS) CEO Aimee McVeigh said that the government demonstrated that they recognise their responsibility to act on housing insecurity in the state budget this week, but the 1.8 million Queenslanders who rent can’t be forgotten.
“The most important factor of the government’s prior commitment to rental reform was protecting tenants from unfair evictions. This bill does nothing to improve the status quo.
“It defies belief that minimum standards for air and ventilation have been dropped from the reforms. If a person or company can afford to invest in property, they can afford to ensure a tenant has enough light and air.
“We need reform that ensures that all Queenslanders have access to safe, secure and certain housing, whether that be social housing or privately renting.”
Michelle lives in South-East Queensland with her two teenage daughters, and until more recently, her ex-partner. The house they rented had termite damage, rats in the wall and rotting timber. Every request Michelle made for repairs, was ignored.
“I almost fell through floorboards once, and there are support beams that are rotten,” says Michelle. “I think it is dangerous that these repairs have not made. I believe there should be legislation for minimum standards.” (more…)
Use this link to email the Housing Minister and ask for the moratorium on evictions to be extended.
The moratorium on evictions is due to end September 29, putting many Queenslander renters at risk of homelessness. At the same time, both the JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments will reduce. Predictions are that another 740,000 Australians will plunge into poverty.
From September 30, landlords will be able to go to court and evict tenants. Rent reductions for COVID-impacted tenants will return to their ‘starting rate,’ and rents owed during the protection phase of the moratorium will become due.
Tenants Queensland reports that increasing numbers of people are contacting their service expressing concern about potential homelessness, unresolved rent disputes and anxiety for the debt they’ve accrued while renting during the pandemic.
Highlighting the issue, Anglicare has released a special mid-year Rental Affordability Snapshot. The report findings show that in Brisbane, once the COVID-19 supplements are decreased, only 4% of rentals would be affordable and appropriate for households on government support.
Now is not the time to end the moratorium on evictions.
We’re asking you all to help call for an extension to the evictions moratorium by sending a letter to our Housing Minister, Mick de Brenni,
By continuing the moratorium protections until the end of the year, and preferably tapering those protections into 2021, COVI-affected Queenslanders will be better protected from homeless, as well as the emotional, financial and physical stress a premature eviction would cause.
Use our online template to send an email asking for the moratorium to be extended. For extra impact, add details of your personal experience and why you believe the extension is needed.
Thank you for your support.
This week, ABC’s 7:30 ran a four-part feature on housing issues within Australia. The team at Make Renting Fair QLD was particularly interested in the series, as was the Tenants Queensland CEO, Penny Carr:
‘These are the stories we hear about daily on our advice service,” says Penny. “We’ve been raising the need for changes to provide greater stability, safety, the ability to create a home for a long time. When people from Deloitte and ex Productivity Commission are saying the same thing, you know that change is overdue!’
Here’s a summary of the key points from the show as they relate to the need for policy change.
Experts say law reform is required.
- NICKI HUTLEY, PARTNER, DELOITTE ACCESS ECONOMICS: “We have a lot of laws that are around renting that favour overly the owner rather than the renter, particularly around security of tenure. Anyone who works in this space has consistently, for decades, talked about how far behind we are compared to Europe or even the US and yet we do nothing about it.”
- BRENDAN COATES, GRATTAN INSTITUTE: “Many more Australians will be renting for much more or, in fact, their entire lives. In that world where you’re bringing up kids in the home, it is much more important that you have stability, and therefore, we do need to shift tenancy laws in favour of giving greater security of tenure to renters.”
We think the government proposals are worth supporting. We need your help! You can use our thoughts (below) to fill in Q8 in the government’s online submission
Submissions close December 28. Feedback will be used by government to draft a tenancy law reform bill early next year.
1. Ending Tenancies Fairly
We strongly support the recommended option and the withdrawal of without ground notices to leave. We support the addition of the following reasonable grounds to end tenancies:
- when the lessor or their immediate family will move in;
- the premises will need to be vacant for at least four weeks to undertake significant repair or renovation; and.
- for renters experiencing domestic or family violence.
We do not support any other additional grounds.
We believe there should be penalties applied for the misuse of the lawful grounds to end tenancies, and the potential for renters to claim compensation.
2. Minimum Standards
We strongly support the recommended option, the inclusion of minimum standards for rental properties and the strengthened repair and maintenance proposals outlined in the Regulatory Impact Statement. In particular we support the new repair orders so they will:
- apply to a premises not a tenancy;
- stop a rental property being rented out and/or rent capped until a repair order is complied with;
- allow the Residential Tenancies Authority to enforce the order; and,
- for advocates to be able to seek repair orders on behalf of renters.
3. Renting with Pets
We strongly support the recommended option that would require lessors to have a reasonable ground (prescribed by law) to deny a tenant’s request for a pet when it complies with other laws and by-laws prohibiting the pet/pet type.
In stage two, these reforms should go further to better support renters with pets during the application process.
We do not support a pet bond, because tenants already pay bonds. Any requirement for tenants to undertake carpet cleaning or pest control should only be related to the pet type. For example, flea control should be applicable for dogs and cats, but not goldfish.
4. Minor Modifications
We support the recommended option with some variation. Renters should have the ability to undertake health and safety or amenity minor modifications with prior notification to the lessor. A definition of minor modifications should be included in the changes and qualified tradesman used (only) when appropriate. If the lessor opposes the tenant’s proposed minor modifications, the lessor should be required to use the dispute resolution process within a prescribed timeframe.
A government fund should be established for low income renters who require health and safety modifications (e.g. grab rails) if they are required to restore the property on exit.
5. Domestic and Family Violence
We strong support the recommended option which allows a tenant or co-tenant experiencing domestic and family violence to end their tenancy more easily when they have evidence from specialist worker. We also support processes to help them get their bond back more quickly. and install safety and security devises.
Make Renting Fair in Qld has given the government proposals a quick rating against our list of asks.
Our most important ask of removing without ground evictions is included, it is extremely welcomed and rates highly. There are two additional areas for changes proposed by government, both of which are positive. Some of our asks however are not included and left for stage two reforms, these do not get any rating.
Overall, we welcome the proposals and consider they will go a long way to support renters to make a place their home.
Click on the headings below for an overview of the government’s proposal. We’ll soon provide you more information about what we like and what we think can be improved. Get on board the campaign, government needs to hear our feedback to convert these proposals into law.
Ending Tenancies Fairly
- Includes the removal of without ground terminations
The following new grounds are added for lessor and agents to end agreements
- Lessor or immediate family moving in
- Significant repair or renovations are being undertaken
- Sale of rental property requiring vacant possession (notice can be issued during the fixed term by a new owner but cannot take effect during the fixed term)
- Serious or significant breach due to actions of a tenant, occupant or guest
- Person is occupying the rental property without consent
New grounds for Tenants to end agreements
- Rental property is not in good repair, is unfit for human habitation or does not comply with minimum housing standards
- Lessor has not complied with a QCAT Repair Order to undertake repair or maintenance of the rental property within the specified time
- Lessor provided false or misleading information about the tenancy agreement or rental property
- Death of a co-tenant
- Tenant is escaping domestic and family violence (DFV)
New grounds for the state to end agreements
- Qld Gov’t owned rental accommodation is required for a public or statutory purpose
- The Department of Housing requires the property to manage public housing as a scarce resource
- Lessor/agent must provide reasonable grounds if refusing a tenant’s request to keep a pet
- An explanation of reasonable grounds to be developed
- Lessor/agent can seek a QCAT order to exclude pets/class of pet on reasonable grounds, order may be for a period of time or on-going
- Allows for the taking of a pet bond OR inclusion of special term requiring carpet cleaning and pest control at the end of the tenancy.
- ‘Encourages’ disclosure of any pet exclusions to be provided when advertising properties
- Pet ‘resume’ form to be developed for voluntary use by prospective tenants
Rental housing quality and minimum housing standards
- Sets out minimum standards for weatherproofing & structural soundness; plumbing & drainage; security; standard of repair of fixtures and fittings; control of pests & vermin; ventilation; lighting & privacy; cooking & food prep facilities
- Extended time for Ts to complete entry report
- Increased monetary value for the emergency repairs a T can organise and claim back
- Allows As to authorise emergency repairs to specified value if a lessor is uncontactable
- Contact details for the lessor& nominated repairer to be provided.
New QCAT repair orders which:
– attach to a property rather than a tenancy
– can prevent a property from being rented until ordered repairs undertaken
– will consider exceptional circumstances of Ls.
– are enforceable by the RTA
– provide for representatives to raise issues on behalf of Ts
Not included in stage one reforms
The topic is not included in these reforms but flagged for stage 2.
However, renters experiencing DFV who are co-Ts will be able to apply for their bond when they end their interest in the tenancy (see below). If agreed by the A/L bond is paid out (w/t requiring agreement from other co/ts). Otherwise usual bond dispute processes apply.
Agent/Lessor may request top up bond from continuing co-tenants (see below).
The topic is not included in these reforms but flagged for stage 2
The topic is not included in these reforms but flagged for stage 2
The topic is not included in these reforms but flagged for stage 2
Other Topics included in the government’s stage one reforms
DFV – Ending tenancies
- Tenant can provide 7 days notice of intention to leave
- Tenant is then not responsible for rent or other liabilities beyond notice time if they have evidence of DFV = Protection order or document from authorised professional (e.g. doctor; social worker; refuge/crisis worker; DFV worker/case manager; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical service worker.
- Tenant does not have to provide forwarding address
- Lessor/Agent must maintain privacy about the DFV situation
- Lessor/Agent may make an urgent QCAT app to ensure veracity of situation.
IF there are co-tenants:
- Lessor/Agent must inform co-tenants that of the vacating tenant
- At end of the tenant’s notice period provide the co-tenants w 7 days to decide if they continue the tenancy.
IF the co-Ts do not wish to stay
- Lessor/Agent provides 21 days notice
- Co-tenants are not liable for end of tenancy costs e.g. rent after the 21 days notice, advertising etc.
IF the co-tenants want to stay
- The tenancy continues
- Remaining tenant/s may have to increase bond if leaving tenant was a bond contributor
Two catergies of Minor Modifications have been developed:
1) health, safety, accessibility and security;
2) amenity or personalisation
The following applies to both categories of minor modifications
- A definition of minor mods will be included distinct from current sections which apply to fixtures.
- Tenants must have work undertaken by qualified tradesperson when appropriate.
- Tenants must comply with by-laws etc.
- Current requirements for agreement between parties about end of tenancy ‘make good’ or leaving the changes apply
- Any damage caused by Tenants is Tenant’s responsibility to fix
- Future consideration will be given to ‘restoration’ bonds.
The following applies to the health, safety, accessibility and security minor modifications
- Tenants can make minor modifications for health, safety, accessibility, and security reasons, including access to basic telecommunications, must inform the Lessor/Agent but do not need consent.
- However, the Lessor/Agent may apply for order preventing changes if they have reasonable grounds
The following applies to the amenity or personalisation minor modficatons
- Tenants must provide 7 days notice to the Lessor/Agent
- The Lessor/Agent must respond w/in 7 days (if park manager or owner corps involved Lessor/Agent may seek and extension)
- The Lessor/Agent cannot unreasonably withhold consent
- Tenants must pursue DR and QCAT if there is a dispute
The Queensland Government has released its proposed changes to tenancy laws! https://www.yoursayhpw.engagementhq.com/RentingInQLD.
Make Renting Fair in Qld is studying these proposed changes. At first impression the proposals are welcomed and go a long way to support renters to make a place their home (see the list of our 7 asks on the home page).
Our key, and most important ask, of removing without ground evictions, is included in the government’s proposals which is good news!
However, we’re still analysing the detail of the proposals to compare them with the changes we’ve been pushing for and will come back soon with our findings.
Times are changing and more people are renting than ever before. We need to ensure our tenancy laws are keeping up. Queensland rental reforms are needed to protect good tenants from evictions without any reason.
Make Renting Fair Queensland represents a voice for all Queenslanders, particularly the more vulnerable and disadvantaged relying on rental housing. Sign up and support our campaign. @RentingFairQld #RentingFairQld
Help us Make Renting Fair in Queensland!
Welcome to Make Renting Fair in Queensland, a community campaign to improve the conditions for renters across the state. With the Queensland government starting a review of tenancy laws, we want to push for progressive change. Our campaign starts here and it will run through to whenever legislative changes are passed in parliament, which is likely to be later next year. We need your help to build momentum!
Sign up and join our campaign, tell your friends and family and help us to Make Renting Fair in Qld – Safe home, Fair Conditions for all. Whether you rent or own you should be able to make a place your home. Make Renting Fair Media Release looks at which Queensland electorates have more renters than owner occupiers. It’s time for change!