Renters are being promised a “fairer go” under changes from the Queensland government, but there are warnings that the new reforms don’t go far enough.
Queenslanders will now only face the possibility of a rental increase once a year, reduced from the current six-month time period when landlords can increase prices.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the move was designed to “balance” the needs of renters with property owner’s interests.
“The great majority of landlords do the right thing and look after their tenants – but for those who do not, this is a wake-up call,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“We must act and will act to deliver reforms that balance the rights and interests of Queenslanders who rent and property owners to sustain healthy rental supply.”
However, there are calls for more to be done to protect renters amid soaring costs, with the Sunshine State leading the country in terms of increasing rental costs.
Housing advocacy group Q Shelter executive director Fiona Caniglia said her organisation was pleased that the frequency of rent increases had been reduced but feared what would happen with no limits on how much rents could go up.
“While the increasing costs of mortgages are impacting property investors, tenants are being pushed to the brink of homelessness by the scale of rent increases that can occur,” she said.
“Property investors have enjoyed capital gains while tenants can’t make their incomes stretch to cope with rent price increases that go far beyond inflation in many instances.
“Excessive rent increases cause homelessness and push people into seeking help from a system that is already under pressure from increased demand.”
Brisbane house rents have risen by 11.6 per cent in the past year to sit at a median $530 per week, while units rose 10 per cent to $440 per week, outranking every other capital city according to PropTrack.
It’s a similar story outside of Brisbane, with rents in regional areas rising by 10.6 per cent to reach $520 per week.
Ms Caniglia urged the Queensland government to consider putting a cap on increases to protect renters from property owners and agents taking advantage of low vacancy rates.
“Many people do the right thing, we are not calling for rent freezes,” she said.
“We simply think that rent increases matched to inflation are fairer given that a rising number of people are completely reliant on private rentals for a place to call home.”
The reforms also included an additional $28m to extend the Immediate Housing Response Package for another 12 months.
That includes providing more than 600 emergency hotel accommodation places across Queensland as well as rental and bond support payments for tenants.
There is also $3.9m to be provided for food and emergency relief, including vouchers, food parcels and contributions to payments like electricity bills.
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