× IMPORTANT information for tenants affected by storms and flooding.

Government changes to Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA)

On 24 May 2022, a law to secure the rental bonds of Queensland tenants passed Parliament which makes the Residential Tenancies Authority self-funding model no longer. Following on from our submission to the committee, we wrote to the Treasurer on 12 May 2022 to seek changes, but we were unsuccessful.

You can read the full media statement here.  

TQ signs joint letters to Federal election candidates

As the election nears, the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) have asked organizations to sign on to two joint letters from the community sector to Federal Election candidates calling on them to commit to two game-changer policies to reduce poverty and inequality.

 These policies are:

  • Lift income support payments to above the poverty line so everyone can cover the basics
  • Invest in 25,000 social housing units each year as part of a National Housing Plan.

Tenants Queensland have joined with the many organisations to be a signatory to the two letters.

One to independent and minor party candidates asking them to make these policies part of negotiations to form government should there be a hung parliament. The same letter will go to all other candidates (without reference to negotiating to form government).

You can access a copy of the letter with the full list of signatories here. 

Government proposes changes to RTA – Update

On March 17 2022, changes to how the RTA manages bond money and the interest it earns on it were tabled in parliament as part of the State Penalties Enforcement (Modernisation) Amendment Bill 2022.

In response, we have made a submission to the Economics and Governance Committee stating that we strongly oppose the proposed amendments to the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008. The proposed amendments will result in undermining a legacy that should be provided to tenants, they remove the autonomy of the industry regulator and a self-funded model which makes financial sense. As a result of this submission, we have been asked to appear as a witness at the Public Hearing of the Bill on Tuesday 19 April 2022.

You can read the full submission here

Government Proposes Significant Change to the RTA

On March 17, 2022 changes to how the RTA manages bond money and the interest it earns on it were tabled in parliament. This was a surprise to us – we were neither aware nor consulted on them. The changes were tucked away on page 7-13 of this omnibus bill.  We will review the proposals over coming days and seek further information.

Key concerns for us are – ensuring we can continue to track what happens to the significant interest, resources and investments generated over many years from tenants’ bonds and that tenants continue to benefit directly from it. Our organisation formed around the centralised collection of tenants’ bonds. This successful campaign has meant the RTA has been able to provide free services to the entire rental sector – lessors, agents and tenants. There was also an agreed principle that tenants would benefit collectively from specialist services through individual tenants giving up the interest on their own money. Remember, bonds are tenants’ money held in trust until the end of a tenancy!  These are significant changes which seem to greatly reduce the autonomy of the RTA.  We’ll come back to you when we understand more.

How we helped solve a bond dispute

One of our regional offices recently supported a tenant who had vacated their property two months early due to the real estate agent increasing the rent. Originally the agent sought ‘break lease’ costs (one week’s rent plus GST, advertising fees, rent until new tenants entered the property), cleaning fees, repairs and the cost of painting the walls. This all added up to the bond plus another $800. During conciliation, the agent dropped their claim for painting, claiming the bond in full, and leaving the matter to proceed to the Tribunal for decision.

Read more

Information for tenants affected by floods and storms in Queensland

If you are being inundated with water or suffering damage from storms or cyclones, your tenancy may be affected.  THIS FACT SHEET is for residential tenancies, however most of this information also applies to rooming accommodation such as boarding houses.

Rent Decrease due to flooding

If you wish to request a rent decrease with your lessor due to flooding, here for a draft letter that you can use.  Please click here for a Word version (you may need to check your downloads folder) or click here for a PDF version. 

Dealing with Mould

Tenants Queensland have produced a Mould fact sheet for renters: please click here
Qld Department of Health have produced a fact sheet: please click here

COMMUNITY ASSISTANCE SERVICES – Click here for information and lists of services and recovery support

Free Financial Counselling Service

If you are a private renter experiencing financial hardship, our confidential and free financial counselling service may be able to help you. This free service includes assistance with any matter in relation to debt such as:

  • Rent arrears (overdue or outstanding rent) – current or previous properties
  • Utility debt in current or previous properties – electricity, gas, phone, water
  • Credit – such as loans, credit cards and consumer leases
  • Fines – at any stage
  • Complaints about your utility or credit provider

We can also assist with:

  • Analysing your current financial situation
  • Budgeting
  • Managing your debt
  • Referring you to other services that may be able to help you
  • Advice and information on credit and bankruptcy

If you would like to know more, contact us:

  • By phone on 1300 744 263, 9:00am to 5:00pm weekdays
  • By email to: financialcounsellor@tenantsqld.org.au

New Queensland Tenancy Laws Passed

New tenancy laws were passed on 14 October in the Queensland Parliament. 

Changes include:

  • the reasons tenancies can be ended,
  • the introduction of minimum housing standards 
  • renting with pets; and
  • increased protections for people experiencing domestic and family violence

To find out more detail go to the overview on the Make Renting Fair website.

Happy International Tenants Day

Happy International Tenants Day – that’s today – the first Monday in October! 

The International Union of Tenants (IUT) based in Sweden announced this year’s ITD theme as ‘Covid recovery, climate, and construction’. The IUT is calling for Security of Tenure, Rent Stabilisation and Rent Controls. “The focus should be on the needs of citizens for more affordable housing rather than letting short term speculative practices dominate the property market”.  See their YouTube video here.  

You might also want to check out how you can support improvements to Queensland tenancy laws by heading to the Make Renting Fair website or joining the Make Renting Fair in Qld online Rally on Thursday on Facebook.

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Disappointment in Government’s tenancy law reform process

Tenants Queensland is utterly disappointed with the report from the parliamentary committee on tenancy law changes, released on 16 August. The parliamentary committee has made the following recommendations about the government’s bill:

Recommendation 1 – The committee recommends the Housing Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 be passed.

Recommendation 2 – The committee recommends that the Department of Communities, Housing and Digital Economy develop a framework for data collection about how residential tenancies are managed and ended.

The committee supports the removal of ‘without grounds’ as an approved termination reason for lessors and the introduction of additional approved grounds. The committee believes that this will be an important step towards providing more certainty, transparency and accountability for all parties in the rental sector.

The committee acknowledges calls for the removal of ‘end of tenancy’ as an approved ground for agreement termination by organisations such as Tenants Queensland and the Queensland Human Rights Commission. The committee also acknowledges views that the removal of ‘without grounds’ for periodic agreements will result in a number of unintended consequences, including the creation of in perpetuity leases. On balance, the committee believes that amendments around managing and ending of tenancies achieve an appropriate balance between the rights of renters and lessors. That said, the committee believes that it will be important for the department to maintain a close watching brief on the impacts, intended and otherwise.

The committee also noted the evidence from the Queensland Law Society which called for the government to consider ways to incentivise the agreement of longer term leases at the outset of any contract through education and awareness.

Recommendation 3 – The committee recommends that the Department of Communities, Housing and Digital Economy work with community housing providers to ensure head leasing contractual practices align with the amendments in the Bill.

The committee acknowledges the important and specialist services provided by community housing organisations to support vulnerable people access and sustain housing. The committee recommends that the department work with community housing providers to ensure head leasing contractual practices align with the amendments in the Bill.

Recommendation 4 – The committee recommends that the Department of Communities, Housing and Digital Economy closely monitor and evaluate, in consultation with relevant stakeholders, implementation of the minimum housing standards reforms, to inform consideration of whether stronger compliance mechanisms are required.

The committee supports the proposed amendments which will provide for the introduction of prescribed minimum housing standards which will require all Queensland rental accommodation to meet minimum safety, security and functionality standards. As with amendments relating to ending and managing tenancy agreements, the committee is of the view that the department will need to closely monitor and evaluate the implementation of these reforms. This will be important to inform consideration as to whether stronger compliance mechanisms are needed going forward.

Recommendation 5 – The committee recommends that the Department of Communities, Housing and Digital Economy ensure that accessible advice is provided to eligible retirement villages to ensure that they can navigate the exemption process efficiently and effectively.

The committee supports the proposed amendments to the Retirement Villages Act and notes the broad support from inquiry participants for them. The committee notes that should the Bill be passed, the department will contact individual villages which may be eligible for the exemption. The committee recommends that the department ensure that the necessary accessible advice is provided to eligible villages to ensure that they can navigate the exemption process efficiently and effectively.

Minor Modifications

The committee acknowledges the numerous calls for legislation that would enable renters to make minor modifications to their homes and the impact that such modifications can have on the wellbeing and safety of tenants. The committee also acknowledges that the national regulatory environment is complex and evolving and that this matter will be addressed in future reform stages. The committee encourages the department to ensure that the views of this inquiry’s stakeholders are taken into consideration in the development of minor modification proposals.

The committee has also recommended that the Queensland Green’s Private Members Bill not be passed. There is a dissenting report from the member for Maiwar, Michael Berkman, available on that link, commencing after page 51.

Whilst TQ considers the government included positive aspects, it is disappointing to see the committee recommend the continuation of notices to leave without fair grounds, albeit newly named ‘end of a fixed term’.  We do not consider that is adequate protection for the growing number of Queenslanders, many with dependent children, who are long term renters.  We will continue to campaign for changes until the passage of the legislation.  We will also provide more information as we have time to read these reports in detail.
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