The Queensland government is tightening up rules that permit some tenants to pay less than 10 per cent of their income in rent.
Housing minister Tim Mander said the changes would allow the government to direct more money to help families, as part of the government’s plan to make the system fairer and create a brighter future for tenants.
“Under Labor, more than 30,000 households were languishing on the waiting list. Over the past two years we’ve brought that down by almost 40 per cent to around 19,000, but there is still plenty of work to do and these changes will help,” he said.
“Since 2005, public housing tenants have been required to pay 25 per cent of assessable household income in rent, but unfortunately the former Labor government created some bizarre rules that stated certain kinds of income weren’t really income.
“Because of these exemptions, some households were left paying a far higher rate than others,” he added.
Under the old rules, payments like Family Tax Benefit Part A or child support payments were only assessed at 15 per cent, instead of the full 25 per cent.
Other payments, like Family Tax Benefit Part B and the Large Family Supplement were not assessed at all.
Mr Mander said the old rules were “completely unfair” because they meant tenants paid different rates of rent depending on where their income came from.
“On one hand we had people receiving hundreds of dollars each week off the books, and on the other we had people on the aged pension or singles working low-income jobs who weren’t getting the same privilege,” he said.
“On top of that it was costing around $100 million on foregone rent, money that should be going back into public housing to revitalise frontline services and help more families.”
Mr Mander said under the new rules, everyone would have their rent calculated in the same way.
“At the end of the day, income is income, and we need to make sure the system is fair for everyone,” he said.
Extra rent collected through these changes will be put to use to provide a brighter future for other vulnerable Queenslanders.