Combined efforts from Queensland strata community heavyweights have successfully lobbied the Palaszczuk Government for a fairer and more balanced solution to its Rent Protection Package.
This is a result of last week’s campaign, instigated by the Real Estate Institute of Queensland and supported by Strata Community Australia (Qld) and Smarter Communities on behalf of Queensland landlords, to challenge the government’s recent green light to tenants to permanently waive rent, without an option to defer, citing financial distress due to the economic impacts of COVID-19.
The urgency was to seek clarity for landlords and the property market.
REIQ chief executive officer, Antonia Mercorella, said the previously proposed measures would have seriously harmed over 600,000 property owners who provide the vast majority of rental housing supply to 35 per cent of Queensland’s population who rent. Not to mention having a devastating impact on the future of the property market and broader Queensland economy.
“We support the protection of tenants who are in financial distress due to this pandemic. However, the scope of the previously proposed measures were too broad in their application.”
State government worked with key industry stakeholders to take into account concerns raised from Queensland property owners and tenants.
COVID-19 rent guideline summary
- Threshold criteria to qualify for the application of the COVID-19 rental response, that includes a 25% reduction in income, or where rent exceeds 30% of the tenant’s income.
- Tenants can be asked to provide the same proof of finances to property managers just as they would when starting a tenancy.
- Clear guidance on access for the sale of the property, virtual rental inspections and access for essential repairs and maintenance.
- A 75% income loss threshold before a tenant can end a tenancy with a 7-day cap on break lease fees.
- Limiting any extension on the term of a tenancy agreement during the COVID-19 period to 30 September 2020 unless agreed otherwise by the owner and tenant, or there is an appropriate ground to end the tenancy.
Minister for Housing and Public Works, Mick de Brenni, said the guide will support owners on a range of COVID-19 issues along with free, impartial and expert conciliation from the Residential Tenancies Authority if parties need additional support to reach agreement.
“Tenants and property owners in significant financial distress are also being supported through a $20 million rental grant package, announced with the framework over a week ago.
“As a final step, amendments to the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act will be introduced in Parliament to enable the emergency measures.”
The Residential Tenancies Practice Guide COVID-19 would be published on the Queensland government’s new coronavirus website.
Thank you to all our readers who helped raise the issue. This new, more balanced approach is a good outcome where the Government has listened to the voice of the people.