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Qld rental reforms ‘missed the mark’: REIQ

By Orana Durney-Benson
27 May 2024 | 10 minute read
antonia mercorella reiq 2 reb bbizhl

Without a handful of 11th-hour amendments, the Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) warned last week’s rental reforms could have been “catastrophic”.

A number of proposed changes to Queensland’s Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation and Other Legislation Amendment Bill (RTRAOLA Bill) were cancelled last minute, leaving the REIQ to breathe a sigh of relief.

Despite the last-minute tweaks, REIQ CEO Antonia Mercorella stated that the bill still leaves much to be desired.

“Given how imperative tenancy laws are to the health of the rental market, we are disappointed with how carelessly the government continues to treat them, and how indifferent the opposition has been in moving amendments on this bill considering the values and interests they supposedly represent,” Mercorella said.

One of the new changes introduced by the bill is maximum rental bond limit of four weeks’ rent. Previously, there was no rental bond cap if weekly rent was over $700.

According to Mercorella, the REIQ is concerned that “this may lead to an avalanche of refund requests from tenants with bonds higher than the new limit”.

“This will create a significant administrative burden on property managers and the RTA, which could easily be avoided if the new limit only applied to agreements made from the commencement of the new laws.”

Mercorella also criticised “retrospective” provisions to rental increase limits as being poorly thought-out and failing to give lessors adequate time to prepare.

“Some of the changes being introduced create very little positive benefit or relief for tenants, even though that’s who these reforms are intended to serve,” she said.

“For example, changes regarding formulating reletting fees could see tenants paying far more in break lease fees than was previously permitted.”

Despite these concerns, the REIQ also felt there are some victories.

A time limit for water consumption charges that was initially proposed has been altered to “an amendment that will allow an invoice to be issued to a tenant based on their estimated water usage at the end of their tenancy,” preventing landlords from picking up tenants’ unpaid water bills.

Upfront rent payment methods are also maintained, instead of proposed legislation to prevent tenants paying rent more than four weeks in advance.

“This could have been a catastrophic oversight requiring intensive manual monitoring of rental payments from property managers, who’d be slapped with fines of up to $7,000 for a slipup outside of their control,” said Mercorella.

In the CEO’s opinion, the biggest win for the REIQ in the bill is continuing professional development (CPD) mandates for real estate agents.

“Following a decade of advocacy from the REIQ, it’s momentous to see the introduction of mandatory CPD, requiring ongoing education and training in order to maintain a real estate licence and registration, and therefore lifting the standard of professionalism across Queensland,” said Mercorella.

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