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The Office of Fair Trading and the RTA have been looking into how real estate agents handle tenants’ bond.  Earlier today the Attorney General and Minister for Justice, the Hon Yvette D’Ath, issued the following media release:

“A joint agency crackdown on real estate agents withholding tenants’ bonds in Queensland has led to investigations against 13 agents, with a further 20 agents targeted for follow up inquiries, in the name of consumer protection.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and the Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA) partnered for a joint compliance operation from January-April this year.

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath said the operation was established in response to concerns that tenants’ rights were being ignored by agents who weren’t lodging bonds with the RTA within required timeframes.

“Bond money does not belong to a real estate agent and must be transferred to the RTA correctly and within legislated timeframes,” Mrs D’Ath said.

“Most agents are doing the right thing; but it’s important that tenants are treated fairly and legally, and I’m pleased to see action taken against non-compliant agencies,” Mrs D’Ath said.

“This behaviour also impacts on the broader integrity of the industry and I know agents welcome such investigations so that all are not tarred with the same brush.”

The OFT issued statutory notices to 54 real estate agencies across the state, requesting agents provide their rent roll information to the OFT. [click to continue…]


Increasing numbers of elderly renters in regional areas are struggling to pay their rent particularly in areas around Bundaberg, Gympie, Moreton Bay and the Fraser Coast, according to the latest release of the Rental Vulnerability Index (RVI).

Tenants Queensland and City Futures Research Centre have released the Rental Vulnerability Index (RVI), as an indicator of rental vulnerability relative to social and economic pressures affecting Queensland renters.

This release highlights the availability of rental housing that is affordable on local incomes, social housing and marginal tenures such as boarding houses, as well as personal indicators including unemployment, low education, disability, single-parent households and both young and elderly renters.

The RVI identifies clusters of indicators to identify regions of ‘rental vulnerability’.

Updated figures released today incorporating the 2016 census data show areas of Somerset, Gladstone and Mackay making it into Queensland’s top 10 local government areas for rental vulnerability.

The data also shows that over the last five years, the proportion of older renters (over 65) has generally increased, with the highest proportions located in the regions.

Tenants Queensland CEO Penny Carr said some of the movement in rankings related to small fluctuations in populations and several postcode boundary changes.

She said the data highlighted that regional and remote parts of Queensland continue to indicate areas of highest rental vulnerability.

“This index is a timely reminder at the beginning of a new year that the elderly and low-income families in regional areas are struggling to pay their rent,” said Ms Carr who runs Queensland’s peak statewide tenant advisory service.

“The data is telling us that regional areas have a pressing need for services – such as tenant advice services – that give vulnerable households material assistance in dealing with housing problems.

“These places have high rates of unemployment, disability, low education and older people in rental housing.

“They also have high incidence of rental stress – even though median rents are low compared to Brisbane.” [click to continue…]


It’s time to announce the winner of our “Home to me is” photo competition, which Tenants Queensland launched as part of our International Tenant’s Day celebrations in October.

We’d like to thank all entrants for sharing their beautiful images and loving messages of what makes home to you. The reoccurring theme was that home is a special place, to be shared with family, friends, loved ones (in one case a car) and our pets!

After much deliberation, we’re happy to announce the winner is Sarita Silva. This inspiring photo of feeding the cockatoos and galahs on the back deck won over the judges. It’s sense of serenity highlighted the importance of home being a place where people are secure enough to express themselves and do what makes them happy.

Congratulations Sarita, and thanks once again to all who took the time to send in their snaps. Picking a winner amongst the great photos was no easy task!


The Senate’s Community Affairs Legislation Committee is holding an inquiry into the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Housing Affordability) Bill 2017.  According to one of the committee members, Senator Murray Watt,

“In summary, this Bill extends the existing, voluntary, Rent Deduction Scheme so that it can be applied more broadly by States and Territories, as well as community housing providers to withhold a portion of tenants’ income support and/or Family Tax Benefit payments and use these funds to directly pay rent and utilities costs on behalf of those tenants”.

The National Association of Tenants Organisations (NATO) has concerns about some aspects of the Bill and is circulating this DRAFT summary to assist other interested parties to make submissions by the due date of November 10.  NATO is an affiliation of Tenants Queensland, Tenants Union of NSW, Tenants Union of ACT, Tenants Union of Tasmania, Tenants Union of Victoria and the Darwin Community Legal Centre.

Submissions can be uploaded here https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/OnlineSubmission

The Bill can be found here:

https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/Bills_Search_Results/Result?bId=r5974
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Tenants Queensland (TQ) has welcomed the Palaszczuk government’s new laws designed to introduce minimum standards in rental properties and provide greater consumer protections for manufactured homes owner-occupiers.

TQ CEO Penny Carr said that introducing a head of power to regulate minimum standards in rental properties was a very positive step forward.

“Minimum standards in rental properties are particularly important when you consider that half of the renting households are families with children,” Ms Carr said.

“The legislation will also address the very poor quality of some rental accommodation in the state.

“Minimum standards are good for tenants who often fear asking for repairs and maintenance.

“Equally, they’re good for real estate agents and industry, particularly when dealing with unscrupulous lessors. Those lessors with properties which meet community standards have nothing to be concerned about.” [click to continue…]


Queensland’s renting households will maintain access to free tenancy advice.  Today Minister for Housing and Public Works and Minister for Sport, the Hon Mick de Brenni, pledged $37.597 million for five years from June 2018 for the Queensland Statewide Tenant Advice and Referral Service (QSTARS).

QSTARS has helped tens of thousands of Queensland renting households since the program commenced on 1 October 2015 but until today the future of the program was unclear with the current contract ending in June 2018.

As managers and deliverers of the program, Tenants Queensland welcomes the announcement saying it will provide comfort to half a million renters throughout Queensland to know that the growing service would continue.

“Renters in all regions of the state contact QSTARS for advice and support to meet their tenancy responsibilities and exercise their rights,” said TQ CEO Ms Carr. [click to continue…]


Queensland renters!
Please send your photos by the end of the month to enter our competition.


In August the Hon Michael de Brenni MP, introduced the Housing Legislation (Building Better Futures) Amendment Bill 2017 into the Queensland Parliament.   The bill includes detailed amendments to the Manufactured Homes (Residential Parks) Act 2003 to increase transparency in the relationships between park owners, staff and home owners and to strengthen consumer protections and provide more security to home owners.

Key changes include:

  • improved pre-contractual disclosure processes
  • limiting rent increases under the site agreement to one per year, and increase the transparency of market rent review calculations;
  • providing a process for in-park dispute resolution before matters are escalated to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT).
  • prohibiting administrative fees for provision of utilities, including meter reading; and
  • prescribing clear, enforceable behaviour and management standards for park owners and home owners; and
  • ensuring emergency services and health workers have access to residential parks and emergency management plans are in place.

Tenants Queensland supports the changes being proposed and wants to see the changes become law.  Before the bill can be passed by parliament it must be considered by the Public Works and Utilities Committee.  This parliamentary committee is currently taking submissions from the public until 28 August.  They will report on their findings by 28 September.

TQ encourages you to make a submission to the parliamentary committee to help support the changes and ensure they become law.  Just a few short comments about how you think the changes will impact on residents will help.

You can find out more about the proposed changes and how to make a submission here: https://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/work-of-committees/committees/TUC/inquiries/current-inquiries/I48HsngBetterFutures

In addition to supporting the proposed changes TQ will be advocating for additional protections for residents of manufactured home parks, in particular introducing a licensing system and standards for operators of park sites.

 

 


The condition of rental properties in Queensland can often be very poor – especially those that are ‘affordable’  .  Although the law says properties must be “in good repair” and “fit to live in” it is not always clear what that means.  There are many reasons why tenants might be reluctant to ask an agent for repairs – especially if they have a short lease or are worried about being unfairly evicted.   Often a tenant will not pursue repairs because they don’t want to ‘rock the boat’, resulting in problems being inherited by consecutive tenants.

The state government is proposing to make changes to the Residential Tenancy and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 (RTRAA) so that, in the future, rental properties will have to meet defined minimum standards before being listed for rent.  Minimum standards will make it easier for tenants and lessors to know what is expected. [click to continue…]


TQ welcomes today’s introduction of the Housing Legislation (Building Better Futures) Bill 2017 into the Queensland parliament by Housing Minister, the Hon Mick de Brenni. The Bill will amend the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 to allow for the introduction of minimum housing standards in rental properties. The standards will be set out in Regulation and developed through a process of consultation.

The poor quality of some properties is an on-going issue for Queensland renters. The changes will help protect the most vulnerable, often pushed into the margins of the market and reluctant to seek repairs for fear of losing their tenure, from living in substandard and unsafe housing.
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The Bill’s introduction is a big step forward but there is still a lot of work to be done. TQ looks forward to participating in the consultation to develop the standards. TQ will also lobby for additional reforms, in particular to address the lack of tenure security.

 


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