By now you would have heard the news about the QLD government’s proposed rental reforms and the subsequent responses from the REIQ and others about Stage 1 of the proposal. But what are the reforms trying to achieve?
Rental reforms are nothing new in Queensland and elsewhere. In July this year New Zealand implemented national Healthy Homes Standards for rental properties on the basis that all New Zealanders deserve to live in a safe, warm and dry home. Victoria is also in the process of implementing rental reforms on similar grounds.
Recently, the New South Wales state government amended tenancy laws to allow for minimum housing standards. It was hoped that the minimum standards would help clarify the basic requirements of providing tenants with clean, safe housing that is in a good state of repair and fit to live in. However the new laws remained ambiguous in some areas and regulatory obligations across the board remain unclear and dispersed across numerous sources including legislation, the tenancy agreement and common law. In other words, there are still too many grey areas, leaving room for disagreement about what “in good repair, “safe”, “clean” and “fit to live in” actually means for rental properties. It is far too open for interpretation, making it difficult for everyone, including property managers.
This was one of the key drivers for the current reform process. Furthermore, with Queensland having one of the highest proportions of renters in Australia (more than 34% of the population and growing), there was a clear need to improve the laws, making them clearer and fairer for all stakeholders – owners, tenants and property managers.
Last year the state government invited Queenslanders to share their rental experiences and ideas on how renting could be improved in Queensland. They received over 135,000 responses from tenants, property owners and property managers. You may have taken part in the conversation yourself. Overwhelmingly, respondents indicated they want to feel safe and secure in the rental market, either as a tenant or as a landlord protecting their investment.
The response from the government is the Reform Roadmap; a two-stage pathway to what they say will deliver “fair and workable renting laws to create a better balance where tenants are able to make a home in their rental property while ensuring effective safeguards are in place to protect their investments” (Mick de Brenni, QLD Minister for Housing & Public Works).
Stage 1 will focus on ensuring all Queensland tenants:
- Are living in a safe, secure, functional and liveable property,
- Have protections in place if they are experiencing domestic or family violence, and
- Can enjoy their home without fear of retaliatory eviction.
So the focus in Stage 1 lies in protecting people in the rental market. This includes:
- Minimum housing standards centred on structural integrity, cleanliness and functionality (the same basic rights every human being deserves in a home).
- Improving the repairs and maintenance process (most property managers would agree this is very much needed).
- Better support for vulnerable people like those in domestic or family violence situations (similar laws have been or are being introduced in other states).
- Allowing minor property modifications relating to health, safety, security and accessibility.
- Preventing retaliatory evictions and ensuring tenancies are ended fairly.
- Allowing pets in rental properties, while establishing safeguards for landlords (such as a special ‘pet bond’ in addition to the normal bond).
To learn more about each priority area, click on the links below.
- Minimum Housing Standards
- Renting with pets
- Minor modifications
- Domestic and family violence
- Ending a tenancy fairly.
For property owners
The new laws aim to encourage longer leases, create more security and stability in the rental market and bring certainty through safeguards to help protect their investment.
The new rental reforms will offer better protection, safer and more secure housing and simpler processes to manage disagreements.
For you as a property manager
The proposed rental reforms and modern legislation’s will help simplify and clarify your role and responsibilities. You will no loner need to sift through various legislation’s and common law documents to find what you are looking for. This will flow on to better service delivery through improved processes, strengthening your relationship with both owners and tenants.
Last chance to have your say
These rental reforms represent the most significant changes to tenancy laws in history for Queensland. The state government is giving all stakeholders the chance to have their say on one or all of the 5 options listed above. This feedback will help ensure the government gets the tenancy laws right once and for all. You have until December 28 to provide feedback or send in a written submission. Click here to have your say.
The bottom line
Supported by the Queensland State Government and REIQ, all Queenslanders have the right to safe and secure housing. This is the foundation for building and maintaining resilient and connected communities.