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Rental Reform Bill

It amends the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 (Qld) to:

1) Ban rent bidding for good

With record low vacancy rates in Queensland, some people who are looking for a rental are ‘bidding’ on rental properties to secure them. What that can look like in practice is that a property is listed for $400 per week rent, but a prospective tenant offers $500 per week rent as an incentive for the landlord to pick them over prospective tenants. This is a big issue because it locks out low-income renters and can drive up rents.

Currently under Queensland law, real estate agents or landlords can’t ask for these bids, but there is nothing stopping them from accepting them if a prospective tenant offers. Our Bill bans landlords and real estate agents from accepting these bids. So if our changes get up, if a property is listed for $400 a week rent, they can only accept $400 a week. 

2) Cap rent increases

Unreasonable rent increases are a massive driver of housing stress, and homelessness. Our Bill would tie rent increases to general inflation (CPI) – which usually increases by around 2-3% per year. This would stop opportunistic behaviour by landlords or agents.

If a landlord has invested a significant amount into improving the property, or has added additional services, they can apply to the tribunal to increase the rent beyond this cap. 

When advertising the property for new tenants, a landlord or agent also faces penalties if they hike up the rent without a good reason. 

Our Bill would also restrict rent increases to once every 24 months, giving tenants more security. 

3) Ensure prospective tenants have fair and honest information about the property

If a landlord or real estate agent knows of information about the property that could impact the tenant during their tenancy, they need to share this information with the tenant. Our Bill requires landlords and real estates to disclose:

  • If they have engaged an agent to sell the property
  • If another mortgagee has engaged in action to take possession of the property
  • If the lessor isn’t the owner of the property
  • Details about the electricity network
  • Issues with mould and damp at the property
  • Any known contamination, asbestos, building defects or safety concerns at the property
  • If there’s a development application or body corporate dispute at the property

This is modelled off legislation the Victorian Government passed earlier this year.

4) Make it easier for tenants to have pets

Queenslanders shouldn’t have to choose between giving up the family pet, or not having a roof over their head. Our Bill would make it easier for renters to have pets. A landlord would need to go to the tribunal, and explain why it wouldn’t be appropriate if they don’t want the tenant to have a pet.

5) Ban inappropriate or discriminatory questions by lessors

Right now in Queensland, it’s hard to stand up for your legal rights as a tenant without fearing that it’ll impact your ability to secure another rental property. Our Bill stops landlords and real estate agents asking prospective tenants inappropriate or discriminatory questions like:

  • Whether or not you’ve had a legal dispute with a landlord before
  • Whether you’ve had a claim on a previous rental bond before – a dusty fan or a light shouldn’t be able to impact your ability to secure another home.
  • What your nationality or residency status is
  • Your passport details, if you’ve already supplied another photo ID
  • An unredacted bank statement – a landlord has no business looking at your day-to-day purchases!

This is modelled off legislation the Victorian Government passed earlier this year.

6) End “no grounds” evictions

Queensland’s current rental laws mean that it’s hard for renters to feel any sense of long-term security. ‘No grounds’ evictions are too often used to retaliate against tenants who ask for property repairs, or lawfully exercise their other rights as tenants. Our Bill scraps “no grounds” evictions and will mean if the landlord or agent wants to evict a tenant, they need to have a good reason. 

Two good reasons that are outlined in our Bill are: if the landlord or their immediate family need to move into the property, or if the landlord wants to conduct major renovations. However, they will still need to give tenants six months’ notice, allowing the tenant plenty of time to secure another property.

7) Allow tenants to make minor modifications

Renters should be able to feel like their rental property is their home. But for this to happen, they need to be able to make minor, reversible, modifications without worrying about losing their bond. Our Bill would allow renters to paint a wall, put up a picture hook, install furniture safety anchors and shelving without needing to seek permission from their landlord or agent. 

8) Mandate minimum standards for rental properties

Our Bill implements a range of minimum standards that a property must meet before being rented out. Things that should be a no-brainer like sanitation, drainage, water supply, ventilation, and a range of safety requirements. 

 

If you're really into reading legislation you can read the full Bill here and related explanatory notes here.