Decimating landlord rights will threaten rental market

Felicity Moore

24/08/2017

The real estate industry peak body, the REIQ, has labelled the Greens’ “Renter’s Rights” policy as unworkable and, if implemented, would pose a threat to the health of the rental market.

The Greens have outlined a policy platform that would have landlords’ rights decimated in favour of tenants’ rights with no thought to the future health of the state’s rental market.

One-third of Queenslanders rent and the overwhelming majority of those rent from private landlords therefore the continued participation of property investors is crucial to the state’s rental market sustainability, the REIQ has warned.

REIQ CEO Antonia Mercorella said removing landlord rights would not benefit tenants, instead weakening the market and driving away a section of investors.

“It’s simply unrealistic to expect that landlords will continue to invest in real estate if they are faced with untenable arrangements that don’t allow them to protect the value of their asset and strip them of fundamental rights,” she said. “Investors have a range of options open to them, including shares and other asset classes. If their rights to manage their property are removed they’ll simply choose to invest elsewhere,” she said.

“Essentially, both tenants and landlords want the same thing - a ‘set and forget’ arrangement where both sides have security.

“What we need is a regulatory framework that supports those goals. A balance must be found and it won’t be found if the Greens have their way,” she said.

New rental arrangements forming part of the Greens’ policy include:

  • Landlords would have to give 12 months’ notice to end a tenancy agreement and even then only if the landlord or their family member was to move in
  • Tenants can terminate with three months’ notice and give no reason
  • Tenants can undertake certain renovations without permission from the landlord
  • Landlords can only increase rents every two years and only by an amount determined by the Residential Tenancy Authority
  • A landlord could not terminate a tenancy agreement even if the property was being sold, meaning two-thirds of the property buying market (owner occupiers) would be eliminated from the transaction

Ms Mercorella said the Greens’ proposals were ludicrous and did not benefit Queensland’s rental market at all.

“One of the most common clarion calls of tenant advocates is that tenants should have the right to longer-term leases. But they already do,” she said.

“Tenants have the right to negotiate a longer term lease with the landlord under the current legislation – but many tenants prefer flexibility and don’t want to be locked into a rental agreement when their work situation is not secure.

“Queensland has a very mobile workforce, with workers moving to find new employment following the resources downturn and the GFC, which negatively impacted many Queensland primary industries,” she said.

“In the years of the mining boom, we saw workers flock to western Queensland to work in the mines, and once that boom ended, workers moved on in search of work elsewhere,” she said.

“Landlords in regional Queensland have been unsuccessfully trying to get tenants to take longer term leases.”

Vacancy rates through most of regional Queensland are high, which means conditions favour the tenant.

In Gladstone, the vacancy rate is 6.5 per cent. In Mackay, vacancies are at 4.5 per cent and in Rockhampton vacancies are at 7.2 per cent. This represents a weak market and tenants have the bargaining power but even in these areas tenants are not taking long-term leases.

Frequently turning over tenants results in lost rent and increased fees for the landlord as property management costs rise in connection with filling the vacancy.

“The Greens would have you believe that landlords are not accepting applications from tenants who want to secure their tenure, but it’s absolutely not the case and this simply demonstrates how out of touch the Greens are with Queenslanders and the Queensland rental market.” 

 

-ENDS-

Media enquiries:
Felicity Moore: 
T: 07 3249 7300
M: 0408 020 428
E: fmoore@reiq.com.au

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