Proposed Queensland rental reforms fall short: advocates18th June 2021
Rental advocates have slammed long-awaited Queensland reforms for dropping a key protection against unfair evictions and a strong assumption in favour of tenants keeping pets, after a significant campaign from property owners and the real estate sector.
The proposed laws, which Housing Minister Leeanne Enoch said aimed to end groundless evictions and establish minimum standards to improve conditions for the 36 per cent of the state’s households that rent, were introduced to Parliament on Friday after a years-long consultation process.
Under the changes, which push stage one of the government’s proposed reforms forward, a landlord will no longer be able to issue a notice to leave without grounds. Tenants who can no longer safely continue with a lease because they are experiencing domestic and family violence will be able to leave with one week’s notice.
Landlords must have reasonable grounds to refuse a tenant’s application to keep a pet, such as the property being unsuitable or to comply with by-laws, but could also place conditions on pet ownership, including that it be kept outside and the property properly cleaned at the end of the lease. The proposed laws also state that fair wear and tear does not include pet damage.
But tenant advocacy group Better Renting said the government needed to explain why it had moved away from a recommendation of its own review to bar landlords ending a lease at the end of a fixed-term contract unless they were planning to sell, undertake major renovations, or move in themselves.
“Queensland Labor must explain why they have departed from this recommendation and how people who rent their homes can possibly feel secure when, 10 months into a tenancy, they can be told to get out,” executive director Joel Dignam said.
With more people renting, and doing so for longer terms, tenants in such situations would still be in a weak position to oppose any refusal of a pet application, Mr Dignam said.
“The proposed changes fall short. People who rent will still be afraid of an unjustified notice to leave that will mean giving up their home and struggling to find a new place to live in a competitive rental market.”
Tenants Queensland chief executive Penny Carr welcomed the introduction of minimum standards and moves to make rentals more pet-friendly, but said the changes would undermine the current tenancy laws.