The Queensland government is seeking agents "with a strong focus on tenant compliance" to manage more than 400 properties which it claimed were left in a state of disrepair by the previous Bligh government.
The previous Labor government purchased 472 properties, located 30 kilometres inland from the Sunshine Coast, to make way for the planned Traveston Dam. However the federal government rejected the proposal for the dam, leaving the properties in the hands of the state.
Current deputy premier Jeff Seeney blamed the Bligh government for leaving the situation in shambles after it leased the properties out.
“There are complex leases on land with some parts of properties covered by leases of up to 30 years and other parts of the same property covered by only short-term arrangements," he said.
“Land parcels that rely on irrigation entitlements to make them economically viable have been separated from those water rights."
“Unfortunately the previous government was a hopeless landlord,” Mr Seeney continued, in relation to the properties that the government managed directly.
“It allowed many properties to become rundown and neglected and did not pursue rental arrears. Now demolition may be the only option for some properties.”
Mr Seeney said more than 40 tenants were in arrears, with $70,000 in rent owing, while 65 breach notices had been issued for various reasons.
“An assessment of the state-owned landholdings is underway as a precursor to this government’s sales program under the development strategy," Mr Seeney continued.
Nick Smith, principal at nearby Raine & Horne Mary Valley, took on 70 of the properties to lease, and claimed the previous government was the problem, not the tenants.
“[The government] refused to do maintenance since day one, and no pest inspections happened at any time, which is mandatory,” he told Real Estate Business.
Mr Smith claimed the government refused to move in new tenants if the original renters moved out.
“I have around 10 properties currently untenanted, and what do you think happens to an abandoned home? It gets ransacked.”
Mary Valley Economic Development Advisory Group chair and Member for Gympie, David Gibson, said selling safe, properly maintained property was a key to the revitalisation plan.
“Achieving the best sales price at the lowest cost to government will ensure that available funds can be used to assist in the development of the Mary Valley economy rather than being frittered away on unpaid rent and maintenance costs.” Mr Gibson said.
“Given that many of the properties being put to market are tenanted, it is critical that tenants meet the requirements of their agreements,” he said.
“To get things ship-shape, we have called for tenders for agents to manage the properties with a strong focus on tenant compliance. The successful real estate agents will have a key role in ensuring tenants pay their rent on time and meet their obligations."
“Tenants will be kept informed of progress and a new project website will be launched in early November.”