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Queensland’s draconian rental laws to be put before parliament

The Real Estate Institute of Queensland has labelled new rental laws as draconian measures that will affect the financial stability of property investors including those in the community who rely on rental incomes streams to support their retirement.

The REIQ says it wants the new legislation to have rent deferrals rather than permanent rent waiver rights for tenants.

“This aligns with the Federal Government model and framework adopted/being adopted in other jurisdictions,” Antonia Mercorella from the Queensland REIQ said.

“We support the protection of tenants who are in financial distress due to this pandemic.

“However, the scope of these proposed measures are too broad in their application.

“In fact, they are the most onerous of their kind for property owners across all Australian jurisdictions to date.”

The REIQ is calling for a minimum income reduction threshold for tenants to meet before they qualify for the protection measures as in New South Wales, a 25% income reduction requirement applies.

It also wants a standard requirement for tenants to substantiate a rent reduction request to allow landlords to make properly informed and fair decisions about rent reductions.

According to the REIQ the new legislation It seeks to scrap the proposed break lease right that allows tenants to simply walk away from tenancy agreements with only one weeks’ notice notwithstanding that those tenants are afforded all the other protections provided under the Renter Protection Package; and to also remove the proposed automatic right to a 6-month tenancy agreement extension which in effect introduces a 12-month moratorium in Queensland with the consequential imposition of permanent rent waivers that would be extended over this additional period.

“The current protection measures clearly ignore the voices and rights of property owners.

“Property owners, like tenants, are entitled to be supported by COVID-19 regulatory protections that support the entire rental market,” says Ms. Mercorella.

“And once landlords discover the true extent of these distorted reforms, it will cause a revolt of a kind not seen before in a residential tenancy context.”

Prime Minister wants landlords and tenants to be sensible in approach

In an interview with Alan Jones on 2GB today, Scott Morrison said that their should be proportional reductions in rent.

Prime Minister Morrison said ” Well, people deal with their states, there’s no doubt about that. What we agreed on commercial tenancies as a country with all the states and territories, the code was very clear about this, that there should be a proportional reduction in rent to reflect the reduction in trade. And that reduction, half of it, should be in a waiver. So that means forgone. And the other half would be in deferral.”

He said “that’s what the benchmark should be. That’s what everybody agreed to do and that’s what I would suggest should be the standard. But what the whole point behind that, though, Alan, was this is. And remember, you raised one of these issues with me, I think it was on air. What we wanted is landlords and tenants just to sit down and work it out and do it in a sensible way. And there were landlords who were, frankly, being terribly unreasonable to tenants, as you told me.”

But equally, that the code puts obligations on tenants too to turn up at the table. And the key, the test for whether someone should be covered by these arrangements is that they are on the JobKeeper program.”

Changes to Queensland’s rental laws rental obligations may affect many self funded retirees who utilise rental properties for income streams.

Queensland rental laws agreed by stakeholders

A Department of Housing and Public Works spokeswoman told the Courier Mial that the Government had consulted on a range of measures.

The spokesperson said “COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on Queenslanders across the state and we know many people are doing it tough”.

“The Queensland Government has announced that it will implement the National Cabinet decision to freeze evictions due to rent arrears for Queensland tenants impacted by COVID-19, retrospective to 29 March 2020,” she said.

“If a tenant is struggling to pay their rent as a result of COVID-19, we’re encouraging the tenants and property owners to come together to work out a solution. These agreements should be in writing and clearly state all the terms of the arrangement.”

The spokeswoman said renters and property owners not significantly affected by COVID-19 should “continue to honour their existing obligations and rental agreements”.

“Where hardship is being experienced, property owners are encouraged to speak with their financial institutions to access available supports,” she said.

“Land tax relief is also available from the Queensland Government.”

She said the department had consulted with stakeholders on the temporary covid-19 measures.

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