Queensland MP calls for rental increase cap of 1 per cent per year

Queenslanders should only face rent hikes of up to 1 per cent a year and evicting tenants for "no grounds" would be banned, under a Greens push for renters' rights legislation.

Queensland Greens MP Michael Berkman said landlords and real estate agents had immense power over tenants' lives: the power to make them homeless.

About 34 per cent of Queensland households are rentals.

About 34 per cent of Queensland households are rentals.CREDIT:DARREN ENGLAND/AAP

"Lack of lease security for tenants means more people sleeping on the street," Mr Berkman said.

"That power can be exercised arbitrarily, and at relatively short notice."

The Australian Homelessness Monitor 2018 report showed homelessness in Brisbane had increased by 32 per cent since 2011.

"Renters deserve to have the security of knowing our kids can stay at their school and we can stay in the place where we've put down roots," he told Parliament on Thursday.

"A landlord should only be able to end a lease or fail to renew a lease on very narrow grounds."

Under the Greens proposal, the only time when renters could be "turfed out" would be when a tenant failed to pay rent, trashed the property, if the landlord or their immediate family needed to live in the house, or for very significant renovations.

Landlords would not be able to increase the rent more than once every two years and those increases would be capped at 1 per cent per year.

"Without rent caps, the right to remain becomes meaningless and landlords can simply jack up the rent to evict tenants by proxy," Mr Berkman said.

Mr Berkman said if landlords objected to improving renters' rights on the basis it would be less profitable, they should not be a landlord.

"If you can't manage your rental property without respecting your tenants' basic human rights to stable, secure housing, you shouldn't be a landlord in the first place," he said.

"Sell the property and let a young, first homebuyer have it instead."

Last month, the Queensland government announced consultation with renters, landlords and real estate agents ahead of reforms to residential tenancy laws.

At the time, Housing Minister Mick de Brenni said he wanted to find out how to better enforce people's rights.

"Many tenants have raised with me that it is difficult to hang your kids' school photos or paintings on the wall in rental properties," he said.

"Property owners have raised with me that they want to see regular inspections to properties and for repairs to be addressed more quickly to ensure their investments are protected."

As of this week, more than 29,000 Queenslanders had responded to the state government's rental reform survey.

The last full-scale review of tenancy regulations was in the 1970s.

Mr Berkman welcomed the government's consultation.

"Housing is a basic human right and all levels of government have a responsibility to ensure everyone has access to safe and secure housing," he said.

"But in Queensland in recent decades, the provision of this basic human right has increasingly been outsourced to the private sector."

A plan to allow renters access to unlimited, rent-controlled leases and stay put even if their property was sold, was among the Greens' commitments leading up to last year's Queensland state election.

Labor has a majority in the Parliament, however, it is understood Mr Berkman has not ruled out introducing a private member's bill or amendments to a government bill.

About 34 per cent of Queensland households are rentals.

 

Felicity Caldwell, Brisbane Times, 18 October 2018

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