The Guardian • Issue #2101

Rental complaints in Queensland

Queensland Housing Commission flats, Kangaroo Point, 1965.

Queensland Housing Commission flats, Kangaroo Point, 1965. Photo: Queensland State Archives (CC0)

At present Queensland renters must give at least two months’ prior notice, or at least four weeks’ prior notice to for rooming accommodation. Rent increases used to be allowed every six months, but the new laws limit increases to once in a 12-month period. Over 300 disputes over 12 months were “rent increase” related. Of these a dozen investigations led to being conducted into landlords hiking tenants’ rents too many times. Only one fine was issued. The maximum penalty for property owners or managers failing to comply with the rental frequency rule was a fine of $3,096.

Rental prices are increasing at over three times the rate of the cost-of-living index (CPI), an average of $104 per week. Rent rises must be restricted to once a year at the rate of the CPI. One in twenty renters in Queensland have a disability, and they require modifications such as locks on windows, railings in the bathroom, and ramps to ensure all parts of the property are accessible. These are covered in the Disability Act, but too often it is not adhered to. Renting is now a long-term necessity, making personal safety a priority. These are the basic human rights of the renter. Many rental properties, although substandard, are rented out at over $400 per week. Negative gearing has not improved the quality of homes. Those who complain are too often given notice to leave by property managers.

QCAT can make decisions around tenancy disputes and issue orders. On Friday 10 May, the Queensland Parliament recommended the passage of Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2024 into law.

According to its website, QCAT is committed to acting in accordance with the Human Rights Act 2019, in a way that is compatible with human rights. The main objects of the Human Rights Act 2019 are to protect and promote human rights; To help build a culture in the Queensland Public Sector that respects and promotes human rights; and to promote a dialogue about the scope of human rights.

Some 30,000 complaints are dealt with QCAT each year, 367 cases dealing with buildings.

We can only hope that the new Residential Tenancies Bill makes a difference, but what would really help the human rights of tenants in Queensland is a program of substantial public housing construction. 

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