On Tuesday 18 April 2023, I spoke on Labor's amendments to limit rent increases to once per year while still allowing unlimited increases in the amount of rent. I also warned that these amendments created a loop hole which would incentivise landlords to evict tenants every 6 months and that's exactly what happened. Note that members were only given a few minutes to speak on the amendments.
You can read my speech below, or find the full transcript and video link in the official Queensland Parliament Record of Proceedings (Hansard).
These amendments at best are completely meaningless and at worst are going to make things worse for renters. For anyone on a 12-month lease, this is the status quo—no change. This is business as usual. From the data we have seen, the majority of Queensland renters are on 12-month leases. This will mean nothing to them. For any renters watching this today, if you are on a 12-month lease, know that the government today are doing absolutely nothing for you. For anyone on a six-month lease, what this amendment does is create a perverse incentive for a landlord or a real estate agent to kick someone out because the 12-month period only applies if you have the same tenants in a property. If you kick someone out after six months, you could still increase the rent.
Since Labor have failed to end no-grounds evictions and the end of a lease is still grounds for eviction, what do you think is going to happen in six months time for people on six-month leases? They will be getting kicked out so the rent can go up. More importantly, there is no limit on the amount by which rent can go up—no limit. There is nothing to stop landlords jacking up the rent by 20 per cent, 30 per cent, 40 per cent. We saw that in the media recently with the Deputy Premier’s own rental property in West End—jacking up the rent there. There is nothing to stop the amount by which rent can go up.
I would like to draw attention to the explanatory notes that clearly say there has been no consultation—no consultation whatsoever. Not only did this not go through a committee; no-one from the government bothered to speak to a single renter. The housing minister could not be bothered to speak to a single renter about what these amendments will mean. I am dumbfounded. I cannot believe that it is only me and the member for Maiwar who could be hearing stories from renters like this. Let me share this. Because you did not consult with anyone, let me share this story with you—
I have lived in my current property for two years. I’ve been through floods and a leaking roof for six months. During this time my housemate and I have undertaken significant repairs and maintenance at our own cost because the owner doesn’t reply, including fighting a massive mould infestation and we were told that our rent at $465 would be increased to $620—a 33 per cent increase.
This is in a mould infested property. Let me read you some other stories because you did not consult anyone. This is someone who wrote in from the electorate of Greenslopes about the rent freeze—
My husband and I are expecting a baby. As the main income earner, that will mean going on maternity leave. I’m extremely nervous about any increase in rent that I know is likely to happen before our lease is renewed. Things will already be financially tight for us but with the added pressure of a rent increase this will certainly lead us to not being able to afford health insurance.
A renter in Cooper said—
My rent has increased by 15 per cent since last year—