The Queensland Government has backed down on part of its contentious retirement village mandatory dwelling buyback reforms with the release of new laws designed to also make renting fairer.
On 18 June, the government announced it had introduced tenancy and retirement village legislation into the Queensland Parliament.
Minister for Communities and Housing Leeanne Enoch said the legislation would mean resident-operated retirement villages would no longer be required to buy back the unsold dwellings of departing residents.
Previously, these villages - along with all other retirement villages across Queensland - were required to pay former residents their exit entitlement within 18 months of leaving the village, if the resident’s unit hadn’t sold.
There were concerns this was having a significant impact on the viability of retirement villages, particularly freehold villages where residents owned their dwellings and appointed a manager.
In these villages, the existing owners would effectively have to pay out the departing owners, unless they could prove financial hardship.
The proposed changes will deliver on another of our election commitments, to enable resident-operated retirement villages to be exempted from mandatory buyback requirements under the Retirement Villages Act 1999,” Ms Enoch said.
“This will provide certainty and peace of mind to a small number of retirement villages where residents control and operate the retirement village themselves.”
The legislation’s introduction follows an independent review of the mandatory buyback laws launched in August 2020, and is a tacit acknowledgement that the government bungled its introduction of the reform.
However, even after these changes, Queensland continues to have what is arguably the strictest regime for mandatory unit buybacks in Australia, which applies to the vast majority of retirement villages.
Separately, the government has introduced proposed laws to make it easier for Queensland renters to have a pet, and end ‘without grounds’ evictions.
Ms Enoch said the proposed reforms provide a balanced approach and help deliver certainty for the 34 per cent of Queensland households who rent.
Queenslanders rely on safe, secure and affordable housing and we’re delivering on our election commitments to improve confidence in the rental market,” Ms Enoch said.
“The new laws provide a strong, balanced approach that protects the rights of renters and lessors, while improving stability in the rental market.
“At a time when more Queenslanders are renting, and renting for longer, we need to encourage market growth to help increase the number of rental properties in Queensland, while also protecting the rights of tenants.
“Our legislation strikes the right balance between the needs of the community, while also supporting continued investment in the housing market.”
The new laws will ensure all Queensland rental properties meet minimum quality standards, will provide clarity about the end of a tenancy, and will make it easier for renters to have a pet.
“We are also ensuring people fleeing domestic and family violence are able to end a lease with seven days’ notice, to ensure there is no barrier to being able to end a lease quickly and safely.”
These reforms progress Stage 1 of the Palaszczuk Government’s rental law reforms.
Ms Enoch said that some of the proposed renting reforms, such as the domestic and family violence measure, were tested during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These reforms have been proposed following public consultation, to ensure all Queenslanders could have their say.
“We also received over 135,000 responses through the Open Doors to Renting Reform consultation, and over 15,000 responses when we consulted on Stage 1 reforms through the Regulatory Impact Statement,” Ms Enoch said
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