Queensland Needs Stronger Renters Rights

Brisbane skyline

The State Government’s rental law reform is focussing on issues like whether tenants are allowed to have pets, or hang pictures on the walls.

These are important questions that impact greatly on whether tenants feel truly at home. But they also sideline more fundamental issues, such as the need for strong rules against unjustified evictions and excessive rent increases.

Many Brisbane renters worry that if they ask for repairs to their property, or complain that an agent is acting unreasonably (such as inspecting their home more often than necessary), the landlord might react by not renewing their lease.

Renters in other prosperous nations enjoy far more autonomy and stability than Australian renters. They have longer-term leases and can make minor changes to their home, as long as they leave it in good condition when they move out many years (or even decades) later.

Victoria recently introduced a rule against unjustified evictions, meaning that tenants who have been paying rent on time and looking after their home are entitled to have their lease renewed unless the landlord has a legitimate reason for ending the tenancy.

With so many of us likely to remain renters for life, we need similar rules here in Queensland to give us long-term stability in our homes, rather than enduring the cost and hassle of moving every few years. This greater security would give renters the confidence to request repairs and assert other rights without fear of being made homeless.

Giving renters security of tenure benefits the whole community. Long-term tenants are more likely to get to know their neighbours and volunteer with local community groups. Children are able to complete their education without interruption, rather than changing schools every few years due to unnecessary and unjustified evictions.

Locally, Brisbane Renters Alliance has been advocating for a rule that rents can’t rise by more than 1% a year unless the landlord provides evidence of renovations that improve the home.

Other advocacy bodies have suggested rent increase limits should be connected to CPI (the Consumer Price Index).

Brisbane Renters Alliance is part of a broader statewide #MakeRentingFair alliance, calling for a range of important policy reforms. I encourage you to read more at www.makerentingfairqld.org.au and www.brisbanerentersalliance.org, and to contact your State MP to ask them to support rules against excessive rent increases and unjustified evictions.