To Make Renting Fair in Queensland, we need to make sure there is a good reason within the law before a person is asked to leave their home.
People who rent their home should have the right to stay if they are doing the right thing. Right now, renters can be asked to leave without being given any reason. This uproots families from their homes with little notice and sometimes on unfair grounds. We need to change the laws to stop people from being evicted from their homes without any reason.
Housing insecurity has been shown in various studies to be a significant worry for renters and often leads to a reluctance to pursue other rights for fear of being asked to leave. Addressing the issue of tenure security is fundamental to improving experiences of renters and moving toward a level playing field in the Queensland housing market.
It’s time to remove the ability for agents and owners to end tenancies without any grounds because ‘without ground’ notices masks a range of unreasonable grounds– usually retaliatory or discriminatory – for getting rid of a renter.
To make this change, the ability to evict without grounds needs to be removed from the law and some additional reasonable grounds inserted. Reasonable grounds would include when the lessor or their immediate family wish to move into the property or if the premises was not available for residential rental for an extended period (possibly due to significant repair or renovation or for a change of use). Penalties would apply for the false use of a ground to end a tenancy.
Requiring a reasonable ground set out in the law, has the effect of allowing a tenant who is meeting their obligations to remain in a property while that property remains in the rental market. That’s fair. It’s a change that doesn’t cost lessors or the government money but would have a positive impact on renters.
Renting is no longer a short term option between leaving the family of origin and buying your own home as it was when the laws were written decades ago. Increasing numbers of Queensland households are becoming long term or lifetime renters.
Removing without ground notices to leave does not affect the ability to enter into fixed term agreements but means that a reasonable ground is required if the agreement is ended at the end of the fixed term or when the agreement is periodic.
Why not long term leases?
Some people advocate longer term leases but this is not our preferred position. There is currently nothing to prevent the offer of a long fixed term lease in Queensland but owners show little appetite to use them. Properties in Australia move in and out of the owner occupier/ rental market and generally the industry prefers to maintain flexibility over their asset lest they decide to sell. Individual investors transition in and out of the market relatively rapidly. 72% of residential investors own a single property, 21% exit the market within the first 12 months and 59% within 5 years. Despite the transition in and out of individual investors, investment in residential property is rising.
Tenants are at risk of high costs and liability if they cannot fulfil the entire term of the tenancy. The tenant also risks being tied to a small lessor who is an unknown quantity with no business reputation to protect.
Removing without ground notices to leave would not change the ability to sign up long term leases but at the end of that term or during the fixed term a reasonable ground would have to apply.