Labor sets record straight on landlord’s rental concerns
WORRIED about the potential detrimental impact to landlords from the Queensland Government's proposed COVID-19 protections for residential tenants, two of Central Queensland's politicians have spoken out.
One Nation candidate for Keppel Wade Rothery and Capricornia MP Michelle Landry have sided with landlords, property investors and the Real Estate Institute of Queensland against some the changes flagged to protect tenants.
The peak body for real estate in Queensland, REIQ wrote an open letter on Tuesday to landlords listing a number of points of concern in the Renter Protection Package.
REIQ Zone Chair Noel Livingston said his organisation was extremely concerned about the proposals as they stood, saying they were "entirely not fair and reasonable for all parties and we believe this has to be amended".
"In effect, rentals will end up going up at the end of all this. It's just got to be changed," he said.
Mr Rothery warned that landlords and real estate agents were "in for hell" if some of the changes were pushed through including not having to pay back rent, not having to provide proof of financial hardship, refusing entry for quarterly inspections, and breaking a lease with only seven days' notice.
"There is no balance to these laws and the consequences over the longer period will result in greater homelessness and a shortfall of investors."
"Why the hell would you buy a rental property if the Queensland Government are going to tell tenants they can live in it rent free?"
Ms Landry said Queensland was the only state that had many of these provisions, which tipped the balance of the package firmly to one side.
On Thursday she wrote to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, the Member for Keppel and the Member for Rockhampton urging them to reconsider the proposed Renter Protection Package, saying she had been inundated with questions and concerns raised by mum and dad property owners who feared their lifelong property investments were at risk.
"Myself, along with every residential landlord that has contact my office, feel this package unfairly disadvantage sections of the property industry," Ms Landry said.
"While I agree special considerations should be made for tenants who have been economically and medically disadvantaged due to coronavirus, there needs to be a middle ground where all parties benefit.
"As the package stands at the moment, it leaves opportunities for blatant and systematic exploitation."
She called for the State Labor Government to do the right thing by residential landlords.
Keppel MP Brittany Lauga responded saying she needed to debunk a number of points of concern being raised.
She said there was no rental waiver proposed and if tenants were in hardship, it had to be proven and her government was "encouraging landlords and tenants to work together".
"We don't want people to be homeless and landlords need to get an income," she said.
"A lot of people are doing it tough and we're trying to strike a balance to keep a roof over people's heads."
The Queensland Government has indicated that it will continue to listen and work with stakeholders in the finalisation of new temporary COVID-19 tenancy measures.
Housing and Public Works Minister Mick de Brenni said the underlying purpose of the moratorium was to sustain tenancies during the COVID-19 pandemic period and the guidelines would be worked through with stakeholders representing tenants, property managers and owners to resolve any concerns before Parliament considered the package.
Despite some misinformation that had been circulated, Mr de Brenni said that no framework introduced in Queensland advocated for a permanent reduction in rent.
"It is plain wrong to say that our framework allows tenants to unilaterally demand a rent reduction, or leave the property without first proving they have lost their job and are in significant hardship," he said.
Tenants affected by income loss due to coronavirus can apply for Commonwealth income support and ask to negotiate a temporary and fair rent reduction, he said, which would be supported by an independent conciliation process to ensure that no party gets ripped off.
"Coronavirus-affected tenants must be able to provide proof, but detailed personal information needs only to be provided to the Residential Tenancies Authority," he said.
"This system is designed to protect property owners by ensuring there is complete clarity around the terms and duration of any temporary arrangements.
"Additionally, an increased set of grounds upon which a property owner can take back their property have been proposed, which include the need to move in, the need to sell the property, damage to the property or anti-social behaviour that breaches the rental agreement."
LNP Leader Deb Frecklington said it was clear that Labor's proposed laws needed to be scrapped and the whole process restarted.
"We are all in this together and everybody agrees that tenants need protection through this crisis," Ms Frecklington said.
"But Queensland's proposed rental laws are the most draconian and unfair in the country.
"Labor's laws will smash our property industry like a sledgehammer, scaring off future investors and forcing mum and dad property investors to cop all the financial pain.
"It's great to hear that more consultation will be undertaken, but talk is cheap - Queenslanders want to see action."
Mr Rothery believed that tenants should be encouraged to negotiate a rent reduction between real estate agents and landlords before ceasing any rent payments.
"The federal governments JobSeeker and JobKeeper programs were designed to help cover the basic essentials like rent, food and electricity, even if it's a negotiated rent reduction to help people get through these next few months," Mr Rothery said.
"This is a massive blow to landlords who only weeks ago learned that landlord insurance refused to cover delinquent rent payments because of COVID-19."
He encouraged local real estate agents and landlords to lobby their local Labor Members of Parliament and write to the premier to voice their objection to the changes.