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article imageQueensland tenancy laws to be reviewed

By Tracey Lloyd     Nov 7, 2012 in Politics
The Queensland Government has announced a targeted review of the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 in order to reduce red tape and balance the competing interests of landlord and tenant.
Housing and Public Works Minister Bruce Flegg (LNP) has announced a targeted review of the Queensland Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008. The act which governs all housing rental market transactions in Queensland including houses, apartments, duplexes and boarding houses affects the lives of 33% of Queensland households who live in rented accommodation (Australian Bureau of Statistics). The review of the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 is part of a broader promise by the Campbell Newman led LNP Queensland Government to reduce red tape and regulation by 20%.
In a ministerial media statement, Dr Flegg said
“The last review of tenancy law was in 2006-07, which introduced some significant changes and it is now appropriate to consider how effectively those changes have worked. We want to hear the views of tenants, landlords, agents, park managers and rooming accommodation providers on important issues that affect them and whether the options in the discussion paper will address these issues. We need to ensure the Act is balanced and there are no legislative barriers to improved service delivery by the RTA”.
A public discussion paper has been released as part of the review process. Four key areas relating to renting in the residential market in Queensland will be targeted in the review of the legislation: balancing stakeholder interests; streamlining service delivery; reducing red tape; and technical and minor Changes.
The discussion paper sets out a variety of possible changes to the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 including increasing the bond payment required if tenants have pets or are in a property that is furnished or has a swimming pool, passing on of all water consumption charges to tenants, creating incentives for long term tenants to remain in a property through less frequent inspection requirements and longer notice periods before the lease agreement can be terminated without grounds.
Under the streamlining service delivery and reducing red tape key areas of the review, suggested changes to the act include making it easier for both tenants and agents to request dispute resolution, providing the ability to use new technology such as video conferencing for conciliation conferences, removing detailed procedures and requirements relating to how bond payments must be made to the Residential Tenancies Authority and increasing the public availability of information relating to unclaimed bond payments. Suggested minor changes to the act include clarifying the definition of resident and simplifying language used in calculating rental increases.
The standard of the property has also been targeted for review with suggestions that properties either undergo periodic inspection or that tenants or prospective tenants are provided with copies of building certifications and property inspections report on request. Maurice Blackburn Lawyers who represented the family of Isabella Diefenbach at a coronial inquest into the baby’s death welcomed the review but stated that it must go further. Isabella was a seven week old baby who died in 2010 after a fall from the balcony of her parent’s rented double storey Yeppoon home. Baby Isabella was being held by her father on the deck, when his foot went through a rotten wooden plank, causing the infant to fall from his arms. Prior to the tragic incident, Isabella’s parents had complained to the real estate agency about the condition of the wooden deck. Coroner Annette Hennessy who undertook the inquest into baby Isabella’s death made a number of recommendations relating to the requirements for regular building and pest inspections of tenanted properties, development of a uniform system for recording of complaints, keeping records of maintenance work requested and completed on properties and improved training for property managers on how to assess a timber deck for safety.
In a press release obtained by Digital Journal, Maurice Blackburn Principal Gino Andrieri said
“The discussion paper released today makes no specific reference to the Diefenbach findings. While the review touches on one recommendation, namely the provision of copies of inspection and pest reports to tenants, it needs to go further in fully addressing the findings of the Coroner. I would urge the Government to look more closely at the findings and use this opportunity to consider implementing the recommendations which will go a long way towards helping the prevention of serious injuries or deaths in rental properties”.
The Queensland Government hopes that the discussion paper will stimulate debate among stakeholders in the residential tenancies sector. Submissions on the review will be accepted until 2 January 2013.
More about Queensland, tenancy laws, rented accommodation, residential tenancies authority, qld lnp government
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