Queensland's rental laws set for major reform after public calls for price caps, flexible pet rules

Hundreds of thousands of renters across Queensland — could now benefit from changing rental laws, with the State Government likely to introduce landmark reforms to the state's tenancy act by the middle of next year.

After an extensive nine-week feedback process, about 130,000 responses were submitted to the State Government about what should change, from making pet ownership in rental properties easier, to capping rental price increases.

Tenants Queensland would like to see a cap on any rental increase 20 per cent above the Consumer Price Index, while others have floated a much lower cap of 1 per cent.

Tenants Queensland CEO Penny Carr said after four decades of little significant change to the legislation, it needed an overhaul.

"We've got large numbers of people that have been in the market for 10 years or more … we've got growing numbers of older people in tenancy arrangements," she said. "It's time to modernise tenancy laws so that people can actually make a property their home … it's not a transitional tenure anymore."

About 34 per cent of Queensland households are renters — a figure that is expected to climb in coming years.

Last year, more Australians bought their seventh home than those who bought their first, and research from PRDnationwide shows the number of first home buyers in Brisbane has fallen almost 4 per cent.

At the end of a fixed-term lease, or to end a periodic lease agreement in Queensland, landlords can issue an eviction notice without grounds, while other states and territories have legislated out that ability.

Ms Carr said it was one of the major things that needed to change, and urged the State Government to include that in next year's upcoming rental reform bill

"That ability to evict without any grounds really raises a fear in renters," she said. "So they will live in properties that are ill-repaired or they will do something that the agent wants them to do, which is not really required of them.

"It's a cost-free outcome for governments and a cost-free outcome for owners, but it's really a priceless sort of outcome for tenants." But Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) chief executive Antonia Mercorella said it was important landlords were able to terminate leases at the end of a fixed term.

A no-grounds termination simply means that at the end of that 12-month period, the landlord can decide that they don't wish to renew and they don't need to give a reason for that," she said.

"Similarly, the tenant doesn't need to give a reason for why they're not interested in renewing. "The perception that a no-grounds eviction is that a landlord can come and simply end a lease in the middle of the term without giving you any reasons is certainly not the case and you cannot do that in Queensland.

"I think it would be absurd to suggest that a landlord should be put in a position where they have no choice at the end of an agreed term [where] the tenant says I wish to stay and the landlord is unable to say no." Ms Mercorella said the REIQ was seeking greater flexibility in any law reform.

"The act is very restrictive in the way that it doesn't allow parties to reach their own agreement on a number of issues," she said. "There are a whole range of issues that if the parties were able to have some greater contractual freedom … we would see longer-term tenancies." "When we talk to landlords, they don't want vacant properties, they don't actually want to be evicting tenants … they want good, stable, long-term relationships where tenants make the rent requirements and look after the property and maintain it."

Article first published here- https://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2018-12-08/queensland-rental-laws-on-cusp-of-change/10595628?pfmredir=sm&sf203910336=1&smid=Page:%20ABC%20News-Facebook_Organic&WT.tsrc=Facebook_Organic

Marlene Liontis
Sunday, 9 December 2018

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