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Division in Qld after premier’s signal on rent limits

The suggestion Queensland is prepared to introduce a limit on rent increases has sparked debate on how the policy will impact landlords and tenants.

March 21, 2023
By Nick Gibbs
21 March 2023

For a single parent in Queensland, the prospect of another rent hike will likely mean getting a second job.

Rents have grown at a faster rate in Queensland than any other state or territory, with low-income and regional households the hardest hit, a recent report commissioned by the council of social service says.

Limiting annual rent increases to inflation or just above has been floated as one solution but depending who you ask, that’s either a modest intervention or the shattering of confidence for investors.

Tenants Queensland CEO Penny Carr has heard stories of renters going to real estate agents months in advance to find out if their lease is being renewed, and if they are up for a hike.

“One of them has had two increases in a row, one of them substantial, and she thinks to accommodate the next one she’s likely to have to get a second job because she’s a single parent,” Ms Carr told AAP.

“She manages her money very tightly.” 

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk gave her strongest indication yet that rent caps were a possibility when she said the government is “looking very seriously” at how the policy could be implemented. 

The state’s real estate peak body wants those “startling comments” withdrawn immediately. 

“In the middle of a housing crisis caused by lack of housing supply, it’s beyond belief that the government is now proposing a measure which innately discourages further supply,” Real Estate Institute of Queensland CEO Antonia Mercorella said.

“No one denies that there is an immense amount of pressure for the most vulnerable in our community, but rent control or freezes are not the answer.”

She pointed to the government reaction after the Greens last year introduced a bill proposing a two-year rent freeze, followed by modest increases of two per cent every two years.

At the time it was dismissed by Queensland’s housing minister Leanne Enoch as extremist.

“With the Queensland property industry providing $27 billion in taxes, it’s inconceivable that this Government continually bites the hand that feeds them and provides vital shelter for their constituents,” Ms Mercorella said.

However, Ms Carr said investors come in and out of the market all the time, and decisions tend to centre on long-term gains.

“They’re looking at negative gearing and capital gains reductions, rather than … income on a weekly basis,” she said.

“It is government’s role to regulate markets so that they operate well and if you look at the market now, you’d probably say it’s failed.”

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