REIQ launches scathing attack on Government after Housing Standards Legislation passed by Parliament
Just before the election campaign began, the Queensland Parliament passed the Housing Legislation (Building Better Futures) Amendment Bill, giving the Government virtually unlimited powers to prescribe any minimum standards for rental accommodation, and to be applied retrospectively.
We wrote a blog about the potential implications of this piece of legislation when it was first introduced, specifically around the lack of detail in the minimum standards which the Government now has power to enforce.
When the Bill was introduced into Parliament, in its first reading, Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni said:
“The amendments will provide a head of power for a regulation to prescribe minimum housing standards. Further public consultation will be undertaken about how and what these standards may look like and how they will be enforced, as part of the drafting of any of the relevant amendments to the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Regulation 2009.”
The sweeping changes outlined in the amendment cover a broad range of issues, including site fee and fee-increase regulation, cooling off periods for residents buying into retirement villages, and a vast array of minimum housing standards including sanitation, energy efficiency of the property, ventilation, cleanliness and repair, protection from damp, the dimensions of rooms, laundry and cooking facilities, privacy and security, water supply, storage facilities, and lighting.
The Real Estate Institute of Queensland has attacked the State Government for what it says has been a misrepresentation of their objections, in an attempt to misdirect the public’s view on the contentious Bill.
“The reason we objected to these amendments was simply that the Government has given itself powers to set a minimum standard without outlining what those minimums are. It has sought to give itself far-reaching powers without any checks and balances.” said REIQ CEO Antonia Mercorella.
“The concerning issue is that these minimum standards – whatever they may be – are retrospective and this will apply to all rental accommodation, to every owner, every investor and landlord, immediately. The cost for even one landlord to make the property energy efficient to the government’s standards could be prohibitive. We simply argued for more sensible ways to achieve the same goal – safety and security for every Queenslander in rented accommodation.”
The member for Redlands Matt McEachan echoed the REIQ’s position after the second reading of the Bill in parliament saying “In essence, the legislation is an open book on what the minimum standards will be and they can be delivered through a head of power under regulation,”
“There is no scrutiny by this Parliament of those minimum standards. As I see it the problem is that the bulk of the rental market is provided by private investors. We are saying to the market, ‘You are going to have to change the minimal standards on a whole host of things that are yet to be described’. For me, that means that there will be significant investor risk. Under those circumstances I would not consider investing in a rental property.”
A similar piece of legislation was enacted by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, which has already seen investor confidence drop and a supply reduction in the rental market due to concerns over a reduction in property rights.
REIQ CEO Antonia Mercorella said that instead of vague, over reaching powers that did not enshrine onerous financial impacts on investors, a more nuanced approach should be implemented.
“We advocated that the lessor (the landlord) commission a health and safety inspection for every rental property.”
“The health and safety report should be completed by a licenced building professional and should address whether the residence complies with all relevant building codes, with regard to the age and structure of the dwelling,” she said.
“If the dwelling does not comply, the report will provide a recommendation on the work required to make the property compliant and the report should also be made available to the tenant prior to taking the tenancy.”