Reforms to rental legislation shakes up the renting game

Reforms to rental legislation shakes up the renting game

The Housing Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 passed in Queensland Parliament on October 21, 2021 has provided greater rights to rental tenants while decreasing the rights of rental property owners.

The rental reforms will affect a significant portion of the city’s population, with rentals making up 24.1% of private dwellings in Logan as reflected by the 2016 census.

The Real Estate Institute of Queensland warned the bill introduces more onerous requirements for property owners and reduces their contractual rights.

The reforms will effectively:

  • Make it easier for tenants to rent with pets;
  • Provide additional approved reasons for lessors and tenants to end a tenancy;
  • Introduce protections for people experiencing domestic and family violence and provide them streamlined rental termination rights;
  • Remove the ability for lessors to end tenancies without grounds;
  • Prescribe minimum housing standards with new compliance mechanisms to enforce these standards.

REIQ CEO Antonia Mercorella said the Bill was a vast improvement and represented a more balanced position on the tenancy reforms first proposed by the ALP, but nonetheless, the Bill swings the pendulum distinctly in favour of the tenant. 

“The REIQ welcomes the greater statutory clarification the Bill provides in relation to minimum housing standards,” she said.

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

“It is also welcome news that property owners have retained the right to end a fixed tenancy agreement at the end of the agreed term.”

Ms Mercorella said the Bill introduced a series of provisions that erode owner’s rights, including changes to periodic tenancies and pets.

Property owners have lost the right to end a periodic tenancy by providing notice; tenants will however retain this right,” she said.

“Unless owners can establish limited prescribed grounds – such as the sale of the property – they will never be able to terminate a periodic tenancy.”

Concerns regarding the bill included a potential demise of periodic tenancies in Queensland, and the potential to decrease rental availability.

“We know that for some property owners, this Bill will be the final straw and we will see some investors making the decision to sell,” Ms Mercorella said.

“The ripple effect of this could see renters struggling to find suitable housing under already tight conditions. 

“With the current state of Queensland’s rental market, it’s imperative that we don’t further discourage property rentals at this time.”

The REIQ cautioned the Government against further reforms that erode investor confidence and further erode property owner rights and fundamental contractual freedoms.