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Qld Government backflips on rental relief package

The Queensland Government has backed down on its initial coronavirus rental relief package saying they will continue to listen and work with stakeholders in the finalisation of COVID-19 tenancy measures.

Housing and Public Works Minister Mick de Brenni said he would be working through with stakeholders the implications to resolve all concerns.

“Queensland was one of the first states out of the gate,” the Minister said.

“Clarifications to the framework will be addressed through stakeholder consultation on guidelines.

“There is also the strong expectation that banks continue to offer assistance to property owners.” 

Mr de Brenni said that despite some misinformation that had been circulated, no framework introduced in Queensland advocated for a permanent reduction in rent.

“It is plain wrong to say that our framework allows tenants to unilaterally demand a rent reduction, or leave the property without first proving they have lost their job and are in significant hardship.

“What is true, is that tenants affected by income loss due to coronavirus can apply for Commonwealth income support and ask to negotiate a temporary and fair rent reduction, which will be supported by an independent conciliation process to ensure that no party gets ripped off.

“Coronavirus-affected tenants must be able to provide proof, but detailed personal information needs only to be provided to the Residential Tenancies Authority.

“This system is designed to protect property owners by ensuring there is complete clarity around the terms and duration of any temporary arrangements.

“Additionally, an increased set of grounds upon which a property owner can take back their property have been proposed, which include the need to move in, the need to sell the property, damage to the property or anti-social behaviour that breaches the rental agreement.”

The framework, published on Thursday 9 April, outlines a temporary and targeted package, with Guidelines to address matters including substantiating loss of income, eligibility for the framework and duration of application of the framework.

The government has indicated the Guidelines would be published in coming days.

Mr de Brenni said the Queensland framework and Guidelines were designed to enable the government to respond flexibly to the concerns of tenants and property owners due to the changing nature of the pandemic.

Australia’s largest states have all now announced their framework to implement the Prime Minister’s moratorium on evictions with most jurisdictions in majority alignment.

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