Today, the Palaszczuk Government passed its new tenancy legislation with some amendments, calling it ‘striking the right balance between renters and property owners’. Advocates from the community sector have welcomed the long overdue rental reform acknowledging some amendments will improve Queensland renters’ rights but expressing concern that protections do not go far enough.
Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS) CEO Aimee McVeigh said that some of the government’s reforms are an improvement for Queensland’s 1.8 million renters, but that more must be done urgently.
“The next stage of rental reforms must happen immediately in light of Queensland’s housing crisis. Renters are competing in unbelievably tight rental markets with vacancy rates below 1 per cent throughout Queensland and, even when they can find a place, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be able to stay in their home beyond six or twelve months.
“The reality is that the housing market is failing millions of Queenslanders, and government intervention is needed. Tenants need housing security and minimum standards like lighting, ventilation and energy efficiency and these protections must be provided by the law,” said Ms McVeigh.
A key element needed in the government’s next round of rental reforms is to permit tenants to make minor modifications to their homes.
CEO of Queenslanders with Disability Network (QDN), Paige Armstrong, said for many of their members, private rental is made all the more difficult due to the need for minor modifications to make a property accessible.
“It is disappointing to see that minor modifications have not been included in this round of rental reforms. There are over 900,000 people with disability living in Queensland, and a significant number rent in the private sector.
“It is really important for people with disability and many other people in our community to be able to carry out minor modifications. It helps people feel safe, to maintain their independence and carry out basic day to day tasks.
“Renters with disability have been waiting years for these reforms and we need to see change,” said Ms Armstrong.
Penny Carr, CEO of Tenants Queensland, the state’s tenant advisory specialists, welcomed the finalisation of this first stage of the reforms which she said is long overdue and a welcome relief.
“Renters will find it somewhat easier to keep a pet and to have repairs attended to but they will wait until 2024 for minimum standards and will still be subjected to arbitrary evictions. These laws are not ones for a modern Queensland as they don’t offer strong enough protections from unfair evictions,” said Ms Carr.
Ms Carr acknowledged the government’s commitment to rental reforms and stated the changes included a number of positive changes for Queensland renters but overall are still disappointing, falling well short of modernising the laws.
“Our focus will now be to ensure all Queensland renters understand the new laws, how to exercise their rights and meet obligations, without fear of eviction.
“We will be watching the impact of these reforms very closely to advise the government of any negative impacts on Queensland renters, then working hard to achieve greater outcomes in stage two,” said Ms Carr.
The Housing Minister has committed to stage 2 of rental reform to begin in the first half of 2022 with minor modifications to be the top priority.
QCOSS media – 0481 854 101
QDN media – 1300 363 783
Tenants Queensland, Penny Carr – 0418 747 921