Queensland is in a cost-of-living crisis like we haven’t seen in decades.
Families across Queensland are struggling to make ends meet, with rising costs of rent, fuel and groceries. And it’s hitting renters and first home buyers the hardest. In Brisbane, in Bundaberg, on the Gold Coast, rents have soared by a record 20% over the last year. Families are living in tents because they can’t find a secure, affordable home. Pensioners are skipping meals because they can’t afford rising rents. Working people are sleeping in their cars because they can’t find an affordable rental. The people who can least afford it are being hit hardest. And we’re not at the peak yet – with inflation set to peak around Christmas time, this government must act now before the housing crisis spirals even further.
Today I’m introducing a bill for an emergency rent freeze over the next 24 months: the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation (Rent Freeze) Amendment Bill 2022. See here for explanatory notes.
The Bill will enact a two-year freeze on residential rents in Queensland, in order to stop the rampant rent rises that are currently occurring in Queensland.
Queensland’s housing crisis is well-documented. Brisbane has seen the steepest annual rent rises on record, and the regions have near-zero vacancy rates. Working families are sleeping in cars and tents. Meanwhile, developers are hoarding properties, driving up rents and stopping everyday Queenslanders from finding a secure, affordable home.
Queensland is in a housing emergency, and we need an emergency response.
The Bill achieves its policy objectives by enacting a rent freeze that ensures no landlord can increase the weekly quantum of rent with respect to a rental property, effective from the date of commencement of the bill for two years.
Rents will be frozen at no more than the amount agreed by a lessor and lessee, or publicly advertised by a lessor, on or before 1 August 2022. Failure to observe this will make a lessor liable for a fine of 50 penalty units. This fine will also apply for lessors who move a property from the private rental market to the short-term accommodation market during the rent freeze period.
For properties which have not been rented for over 12 months, rent will be set as the median rent for properties in that postcode which are comparable with respect to number of bedrooms and bathrooms, floor space and condition. This includes newly built properties.
After the two-year rent freeze period, rental increases will be capped at no greater than 2% every two years. Nonetheless, legislation which complements this bill by enacting a potentially more nuanced rent cap should be legislated before the expiry of the rent freeze period. Failure to observe rent caps will make a lessor liable for a fine of 50 penalty units.
This Bill requires the Residential Tenancies Authority (the RTA) to maintain a register of rents applicable to corresponding properties, as informed by the rental bond lodgement form which it already administers.
Where there has not been a rental bond lodged with the RTA, it will have the power to compel lessors to provide information about the amount of rent payable with respect to a residential tenancy agreement. Failure to provide this information will make a lessor liable for a fine of 50 penalty units.