Queensland’s efforts to create a fairer rental market through reforms to rental laws may still be unfair to property owners.

The Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) said the 2021 Housing Amendment Act, recently passed by the state parliament, burdens owners with annoying demands and affects their contractual rights.

In a nutshell, the rent reforms will deprive landlords of the ability to terminate leases without land and will make it easy for tenants to keep a pet.

REIQ CEO Antonia Mercorella said these two changes are the most damaging changes to the rental laws.

“Property owners have lost the right to terminate a periodic lease through notice. However, tenants retain this right,” she says.

“Unless owners can provide limited prescribed grounds, they will never be able to cancel a periodic lease.”

Ms Mercorella said this is a step backwards and could lead to the termination of periodic leases in Queensland.

“This reform will adversely affect tenants who seek maximum flexibility and prefer not to commit to a fixed-term lease,” she said.

In addition, a no-pet policy is now a no-go for property owners.

“While renters are still required to request pet approval, owners can deny the request only if they can provide the prescribed reasons,” said Ms. Mercorella.

Attempts to balance the proposals

Still, Ms. Mercorella acknowledged the improvements in the proposed changes to the rental laws, showing that the state is trying to strike a balance.

“The REIQ welcomes the greater legal clarification the bill provides regarding minimum housing standards,” she said.

“Renters have an absolute right to feel safe in their homes and these provisions ensure that there is a clear standard for the condition of the property and its inclusions, along with compliance measures to enforce the new standards.”

In addition, property owners now retain the right to terminate a fixed-term lease at the end of the agreed term.

It was previously proposed that tenants would have the unilateral right to determine the duration of the lease.

Communities and Housing Minister Leeanne Enoch said the current proposals passed by Parliament would benefit more than a third of Queensland households renting and owners offering rental properties.

“This legislation strikes the right balance between the needs of the community while supporting continued investment in the private rental market,” she said.

Ms Enoch also pointed out the provision for tenants to terminate their lease with seven days’ notice if they are dealing with domestic violence or domestic violence.

Need for fairer proposals

Despite the current set of proposals being a vast improvement on the original set-up, Ms Mercorella returned to the need for a fairer set of rules which would now undermine investor confidence.

“About 36% of Queensland residents rent their homes and the bulk of that housing is provided by ordinary mom and dad investors,” she said.

“We cannot have cumbersome legislation that deprives owners of their rights and undermines their right to manage an asset that they have worked hard to acquire.”

Ms. Mercorella said for many investors that this bill will be the “last straw” that would guide their decision to keep or sell their properties.

“The ripple effect of this could lead to tenants struggling to find suitable housing in already cramped conditions,” she said.

“With the current state of the Queensland rental market, it is imperative that we do not further discourage property rental at this time.”

Photo by Surface on Unsplash.

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