Queensland tenants and social groups welcome proposal to limit rent increases to once a year

·3-min read
<span>Photograph: Darren England/AAP</span>
Photograph: Darren England/AAP

A proposal by the Queensland government to limit rent increases to once a year has been applauded by the tenants’ union and social organisations who say the measure would ease cost-of-living pressures.

In Queensland, landlords can currently increase rents every six months. Limiting rent increases to once a year would bring the state in line with other Australian jurisdictions like Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and New South Wales.

In Victoria, if your lease started on or after 19 June 2019, rent cannot be increased more than once every 12 months.

NSW also limits rent increases to once a year for fixed-term leases of two years or more, while in South Australia and Tasmania, rents cannot generally be increased more than once a year.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, the deputy premier, Steven Miles, vowed to put everything “on the table” ahead of a housing roundtable next week.

Related: Queensland government faces backlash over move to consider rent caps

It comes as Queensland faces the worst rent inflation in the country and has seen a spike in homelessness almost three times the national increase.

“There’s a wide range of options that could be considered,” Miles told reporters.

“We could look, for example, at limiting the number of times a year rents could go up, or we could look, as other jurisdictions have, at limiting the amount that they can go up [by], for example, [by] tying them to CPI.”

On Wednesday, the Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, sought to clarify that the government would not implement a rent freeze, which is separate to the rent cap proposal lauded by the “Make Renting Fair” campaign.

Instead, Palaszczuk said the government would consider limiting rent increases to once a year “to put a bit of downward pressure” on tenants.

Tenants Queensland’s chief executive, Penny Carr, said capping rent increases to once a year “is necessary for struggling renters”.

But she called on the state government to go even further and limit rent increases to 10% above CPI like the ACT government does.

“Our proposal maintains the value of returns to landlords while also providing predictability and stability for renters,” Carr said.

“This change will offer much-needed support to stressed renters who are facing unaffordable rent increases, forcing them into homelessness.

“The government must continue their leadership on this issue.”

Jackson Hills, policy and strategic engagement manager at Q Shelter, said the government needs to find a reasonable way to manage rent increases.

“We can increase rents twice a year in Queensland at the moment. Most other states and territories do that once a year,” Hills told reporters at a press conference last week.

“More supply will bring prices down. But we need fair and equitable leasing terms to protect tenants as well.”

Related: How would rent caps work in Australia and how might they affect affordability?

Fabrizio Carmignani, an economics professor at Griffith University, said limiting the frequency of rent increases was unlikely to make a difference without a cap restricting the amount landlords can charge tenants.

He called for the government to adopt short-term rent controls while bolstering supply.

“I would be much more in favour of putting a cap on the total increase. To me, just limiting the frequency doesn’t achieve much,” Carmignani told Guardian Australia.

“You still have the same problem of rents going up too fast, and therefore poor households struggling to afford the rent.”

But chief executive of the Real Estate Institute of Queensland, Antonia Mercorella, was critical of the proposal which she dubbed the “best of the worst proposed rent controls on property owners”.

“As the REIQ weren’t consulted on this issue, we don’t yet have a full picture of what is being proposed, and we all know the devil is in the detail,” Mercorella said.

“There are already statutory caps on how frequently rent can be increased.

“It would be our preference not to continue further rent control, but we would be open to having a discussion.”