Queensland Government’s new, secret, tenancy laws unnecessary, unjust and inequitable

A Queensland think tank has criticised the introduction of new residential tenancy laws for the COVID-19 pandemic as unnecessary, unjust and inequitable in an analysis sent to all Queensland MLAs.

Executive Director Graham Young also noted that although the minister claims the changes will be debated in parliament tomorrow they are not on the notice paper, and the legislation does not appear to be available.

“The federal government has increased payments to welfare recipients, made it easier for newly unemployed to access benefits, and instituted a job-keeper allowance. Welfare recipients are also eligible for rental assistance.

“Why should property owners be expected to further top-up these benefits by being forced to give discounts on rent to their tenants?”

“The government payments are designed to ensure that people can meet their commitments. If they are inadequate, then the payments need to be adjusted.”

Mr Young said the government was arbitrarily targeting one group to support tenants, and it is hard to see the logic.

“Occupancy costs are only one cost people need to meet. Logically the government should be legislating to ensure that grocery stores, service providers, retailers, utilities and so on should also charge discounted prices to people who have lost income.

“And just pointing that out underlines the logical absurdity of this proposal.”

Mr Young said that it was also inequitable between people who are COVID-19 casualties.

“There are many home owners with large mortgages who will be in more desperate straits than renters, yet the best they can hope for is a repayment moratorium from their bank of 6 months, which they will have to pay off in due course.

“Landlords may also have experienced a decline in income because of COVID-19. Many landlords are only moderately well-off with 23.5% of them in the bottom 40% of households by disposable income.

“They may also be retirees who have seen their share portfolio decimated, dividends suspended, and now face a 50% reduction in their rental income, but still have to pay management fees, rates, land tax, maintenance and loan repayments. Who’s going to support them?”

In the last federal election Labor lost in large part because of their proposed taxes on negative gearing and dividends. This proposal is even more unjust.