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Proposed Amendment to Housing Bill

I move the following amendment to the bill —

"However, the tenant may also attach a fixture, or make a structural change, to the premises if the tenant believes the attaching of the fixture, or the making of the structural change, to the premises is necessary to protect the tenant or another occupant of the premises from domestic violence."

I am grateful for the opportunity to put forward these amendments today and hopeful that the government will take the opportunity to debate and implement real and urgently needed protections for renters in Queensland. In her speech the minister has already succinctly outlined many of the proposed amendments I have put forward, including: allowing minor modifications, banning invasive application questions, rent caps and a real end to no-grounds evictions.

Like every single amendment that I will move today, amendment No. 1 draws on extensive consultation with the community, Queensland tenants and tenants’ advocacy groups, as well as the 800 renters who made submissions on this bill calling for real transformative change. In particular, amendment No. 1 is based on evidence from the women’s legal sector that was heard during the inquiry into this bill.

Amendment No. 1 expands the level of protections available to survivors of family violence. It ensures a tenant can install safety equipment like lights or cameras if they believe this necessary to protect themselves or another occupant from perpetrators of domestic violence. These measures were proposed in the 2019 CRIS which states, ‘The current laws may create unnecessary barriers for people experiencing domestic and family violence to improve the security of their rental property by changing locks or installing security screens and cameras.’

This also recommended a range of modification categories, including modifications to improve the security of a tenant, particularly where a tenant is at risk or escaping domestic and family violence; for example, deadlocks, security doors, cameras and alarms. People at risk of domestic violence should not be prevented from protecting their own safety simply because someone else owns their home. Similarly, people with disabilities should not be prevented from making minor modifications like installing grab rails in showers. Parents of young children should be able to install furniture anchors and baby gates. Elderly people should be able to install safety aids.

Importantly, measures such as I am putting forward in amendment No. 1 only work if implemented in conjunction with a real end to no-grounds evictions, without which tenants are still too scared to ask to make minor modifications like installing cameras and lights. The community gave clear feedback during the government’s own consultation process and then on the inquiry into this bill for minor modifications, including cameras and safety devices. Despite this, the government has left this and other crucial reform measures out of the bill. I can only imagine how pleased the real estate lobby feels today with these exclusions.

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