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Greens threaten 650% rate increase on Brisbane landlords

By Kyle Robbins
07 November 2023 | 12 minute read
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As part of the party’s push to win the city’s 2024 mayoral election, it has promised increased rate hikes for landlords who hike rents.

With nearly 40 per cent of the homes in the Queensland capital occupied by rentals, the Greens’ Brisbane lord mayor candidate, Jonathan Sriranganathan, has proposed charging landlords in the city up to 750 per cent of the standard council rates bill should they fail to comply with the policy’s requirement for rents to be kept at or below January 2023 levels.

Mr Sriranganathan’s policy proposal comes against a backdrop of increasing rents in Brisbane, with this environment, plus the disparity between rent and wage growth, forming a core component of the policy’s motivation.

According to CoreLogic’s September Quarterly Rental Review, rents in the city jumped 8.1 per cent in the last 12 months, while Mr Sriranganathan indicated Brisbane’s average wage has risen 3.6 per cent in that time.

He stressed: “Brisbane residents don’t deserve to suffer like this.”

“Renters know the fear and worry about another huge rent hike that comes with every lease renewal,” he added.

As part of Mr Sriranganathan’s push to become Brisbane’s lord mayor at the end of next year’s election, he shared his party’s rental policies. These include:

- Freeze rent increases in Brisbane for two years to let wages catch up and give renters relief.

- Enforce the rent freeze by charging significantly higher rates on any property investor who raises the rent above January 2023 levels.

- Make sure renters are protected even if they move house by tying the rent freeze to each home rather than to each tenancy.

- Support strong legal protections for renters at a state level, including legislated rent caps, ending no grounds evictions, stronger minimum standards, and banning rent bidding.

Such a radical policy proposal is not unfamiliar to the Greens at any level of government, with the party’s national body often pushing for such a scheme to be implemented nationwide.

Last year, Greens MP Max Chandler-Mather called on the federal government to impose a two-year rent freeze in response to the nation’s rental crisis, which the Albanese government flat-out rejected. Earlier this year, federal Minister for Housing Julie Collins put any suggestions of future rent freezes completely to bed when she labelled the initiative ineffective.

Despite Ms Collins’ position, which is supported by many leading industry figures such as Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) president Hayden Groves, Mr Sriranganathan remains hell bent on introducing the caps should the 2024 mayoral election end in his favour.

While conceding councils are powerless with regards to legislation changes, and therefore cannot alter Queensland tenancy laws, he explained the Brisbane council “does have significant power to set rates, including separate rate categories depending on whether housing is affordable”.

He shared the major outcomes of the Greens’ plan as:

- Making it extremely costly for property investors to raise rents by charging much higher rates if they do.

- Create a new rates category, “Uncapped Rental Home”. Properties where the rent is raised above the rent that was charged on 1 January 2023 will be reclassified into this new rating category.

- The rates for properties in the Uncapped Rental Home” category would increase by 650 per cent.

- In practice, almost no investors would raise the rent, since doing so would mean they lose money.

In order to mitigate against a constant flood of evictions as landlords look to offload tenants to increase rents, he explained the freeze would apply to individual properties, rather than tenancies, meaning “tenants can’t be kicked out to jack up rents.

He added: “Where a home has not previously been rented out, or where it has been substantially renovated, council would establish a baseline rent,” which would be calculated on a suburb-by-suburb basis according to the median rent for that style of housing.

Mr Sriranganathan is quoted in other media outlets as stating:

“Our message to landlords is pretty straightforward: if you put up the rent, we’ll put up your rates.”

Whether Mr Sriranganathan’s policies ever see the light of day remains to be seen, however, the Greens party does have a strong foothold in the Queensland capital, with the party winning seats in three of the city’s federal electorates – Brisbane, Ryan and Griffith – at last year’s election.

Greens threaten 650% rate increase on Brisbane landlords
jonathan sriranganathan greens reb jtihm3
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