The Queensland Government is reassessing regulations curbing rent increases in light of allegations suggesting property owners are exploiting loopholes to bypass the recently introduced rental caps.
Enacted in April, the legislation was intended to restrict rental increases to an annual instance, a measure considered necessary as Queensland grapples with some of Australia’s most severe rent inflation.
However, indications have now surfaced of landlords and agents exploiting the regulations by prematurely terminating tenancy agreements in order to facilitate more frequent rental hikes, according to the Illawarra Mercury.
The Queensland government is contemplating amendments that would enforce annual rent increases to the property instead of individual tenancies.
“The implications of this revision would be that irrespective of changes in tenancy, rent could not be raised more than once per annum for a given property,” the Department of Housing explained in a statement survey.
Housing Minister Meaghan Scanlon has voiced her commitment to the cause, tweeting, “We need to ensure that our laws are adhered to as intended.”
Ms Scanlon further added, “We have initiated a discussion paper, looking into a proposal that ensures laws aren’t bypassed, and renters aren’t unjustly affected by practices aimed at dodging rent increase limitations.”
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk had previously underscored the importance of fairness for over a million renters in the Sunshine State when introducing the initial changes in March that reduced rental hikes from biannual to annual.
These changes harmonised Queensland’s policies with rent increase restrictions in place in NSW, Victoria, Tasmania, the ACT, and SA.
The Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) voiced its disapproval, stating that the government had previously promised not to impose a cap and that the amendments did not resolve housing supply issues.
Tenants Queensland cautioned that without caps on rent increases, landlords could employ lease terminations as a workaround to increase rents.
Despite criticism, Deputy Premier Steven Miles defended the reforms, recognising the necessity to adapt to potential loopholes.
“In this case, we occasionally have to make adjustments to address those loopholes, which is what the housing minister has done,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Opposition housing spokesperson Tim Mander criticised the government for its apparent lack of foresight.
“The only individuals who failed to anticipate the problems with the tenancy laws were Steven Miles and his administration. They were warned by the opposition, the real estate industry, and the renters themselves,” he remarked.