By Georgia Parsonson
New legislation is to be introduced in Queensland’s parliament this week. The proposed laws are intended to end ‘without grounds’ evictions and make it easier for renters to own pets.
Leeanne Enoch, Minister for Communities and Housing, said that the proposed legislation offers a balanced approach to the situation and provides more housing certainty for the 34% of Queenslanders who rent.
“Queenslanders rely on safe, secure and affordable housing, and we’re delivering on our election commitments to improve confidence in the rental market,” Minister Enoch said.
“The new laws provide a strong, balanced approach that protects the rights of renters and lessors while improving stability in the rental market.
“At a time when more Queenslanders are renting, and renting for longer, we need to encourage market growth to help increase the number of rental properties in Queensland while also protecting the rights of tenants.
“Our legislation strikes the right balance between the needs of the community while also supporting continued investment in the housing market.”
In addition to providing clarity regarding the end of a tenancy and making it easier for renters to own a pet, the new laws will also ensure all Queensland properties meet the state’s minimum quality standards.
“We are also ensuring people fleeing domestic and family violence are able to end a lease with seven days’ notice, to ensure there is no barrier to being able to end a lease quickly and safely.”
These proposed laws are part of Stage 1 of the Palaszczuk Government’s Rental Law reforms. Some of them – including the domestic and family violence measure – were tested during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These reforms have been proposed following a public consultation to ensure all Queenslanders could have their say.
“We also received over 135,000 responses through the Open Doors to Renting Reform consultation, and over 15,000 responses when we consulted on Stage 1 reforms through the Regulatory Impact Statement,” Ms Enoch said.
According to Minister Enoch, the Greens Renting Bill – introduced to parliament in May – would make it less likely for homeowners to rent out their property.
“What we need right now are more rental properties available for Queenslanders, and their bill will do the exact opposite,” Ms Enoch said.
It is believed that seniors in resident-operated retirement villages would also gain from the proposed legislation.
“The proposed changes will deliver on another of our election commitments, to enable resident-operated retirement villages to be exempted from mandatory buyback requirements under the Retirement Villages Act 1999,” she said.
“This will provide certainty and peace of mind to a small number of retirement villages where residents control and operate the retirement village themselves.”
Antonia Mercorella is the CEO of the Real Estate Institute of Queensland. Regarding the proposed legislation, she said the Government consulted extensively with various stakeholders to obtain a just and balanced outcome for the new rental reforms.
“We recognise that tenancy laws in Queensland must be modernised to keep pace with our changing rental landscape. In circumstances where 36% of our community rent their homes, the right regulatory framework is critically important to provide security and certainty to both tenants and owners,” she said.
Karyn Walsh, CEO of the Micah Project, said that the domestic violence provisions in the bill were essential in ensuring the safety of Queensland residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I applaud the Government for ensuring that these provisions will remain in legislation. Being able to leave a tenancy without a financial burden is an important consideration for women and families fleeing domestic violence,” Ms Walsh said.