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While the peak body is celebrating some wins from its comprehensive submission that recommended 39 amendments to the RTRAOLA* Bill, the REIQ is disappointed that many of its concerns were ignored.

REIQ CEO Antonia Mercorella said its pleasing to see some of the REIQ’s significant concerns were addressed by a suite of eleventh-hour amendments to the legislation.

“Firstly, a time limit that was originally proposed for water consumption charges, would have seen property owners potentially picking up hundreds of dollars in water bills belonging to the tenant,” Ms Mercorella said.

“We avoided this by achieving an amendment that will allow an invoice to be issued to a tenant based on their estimated water usage at the end of their tenancy.

“Secondly, the proposed legislation would have effectively prevented tenants from paying rent more than four weeks in advance during their tenancy if they wished to do so.

“This could have been a catastrophic oversight requiring intensive manual monitoring of rental payments from property managers, who’d be slapped with fines of up to $7,000 for a slipup outside of their control.

“It will be a welcome relief to tenants and property managers alike, that the REIQ successfully managed to maintain upfront rent payment options.

“We also ensured that the allowable timeframes for storing renter’s personal information was consistent with legislation governing real estate professionals’ conduct.

“This has seen the storage timeframe increased from three years to seven years, before that information is required to be destroyed.

“Another key win was regarding property modifications in apartment and unit complexes, to make sure that any structural changes or fixtures requested by tenants are subject to body corporate approval.

“While we remain gravely concerned about the impacts of attaching the 12-month rent increase frequency limit to a property rather than a tenancy agreement, there was some concession made for rent increases when a property is sold.

“New lessors won’t be punished for failing to produce evidence of the last rent increase within the past 12 months from a previous owner if they don’t hold the relevant information.”

Ms Mercorella said perhaps the biggest win in this Bill, was that it will see continuing professional development (CPD) introduced for all real estate professionals.

“Following a decade of advocacy from the REIQ, it’s momentous to see the introduction of mandatory CPD, requiring ongoing education and training in order to maintain a real estate licence and registration and therefore lifting the standard of professionalism across Queensland.”

Despite some fundamental victories, the REIQ is warning that a number of problematic flaws remain in the legislation.

“Previously, there was no maximum rental bond if weekly rent was more than $700, but now a maximum limit of four weeks rent will apply to all general tenancies irrespective of the weekly rent,” Ms Mercorella said.

“Our key concern is that this may lead to an avalanche of refund requests from tenants with bonds higher than the new limit.

“This will create a significant administrative burden on property managers and the RTA, which could easily be avoided if the new limit only applied to agreements made from the commencement of the new laws.

“It’s also a feeling of DeJa’Vu to see the Government is yet again introducing new provisions to rent increase frequency limits in a retrospective manner – rather than giving lessors ample notice to prepare.

“What’s worse is that some of the changes being introduced create very little positive benefit or relief for tenants, even though that’s who these reforms are intended to serve.

“For example, changes regarding formulating reletting fees could see tenants paying far more in break lease fees than was previously permitted.

“Further, the Government has conceded that attaching rent increases to the property (rather than the tenancy) may cause rents to inflate, as lessors attempt to protect against uncertainty of longer timeframes between rent increases.”

Ms Mercorella concluded that she would have liked to have seen the Government and Opposition undertaking more consultation with stakeholders to ensure the legislation was practical and fair.

“The RTRAOLA* Bill was hastily drafted and tabled without consultation with key stakeholders. Many of these errors and omissions could have been avoided if Government had engaged in stakeholder consultation upfront,” she said.

“This highlights the importance of a peak body that understands practical implications and is passionate about ensuring laws are feasible and fit for purpose.

“Given how imperative tenancy laws are to the health of the rental market, we are disappointed with how carelessly the Government continues to treat them, and how indifferent the Opposition has been in moving amendments on this Bill considering the values and interests they supposedly represent.”

*The Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation and Other Legislation Amendment Bill (the RTRAOLA Bill)

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