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REIQ demands crackdown on dodgy backyard rentals

The Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) has called on authorities to crackdown on blackmarket “backyard campsites” emerging as a result of the rental crisis in the state.

REIQ Chief Executive Officer Antonia Mercorella said the institute would like to see the State Government urgently investigate and stamp out dodgy private housing operators who are taking advantage of desperate tenants.

“It is highly disturbing to see reports that backyards, garages and storage spaces are being advertised for rent for people to reside in,” Ms Mercorella said.

“We would like to see the full force of the law coming down on these opportunistic people.

“This black market of grossly substandard ‘sites for rent’ needs to be nipped in the bud.”

Ms Mercorella said 87.6 per cent of rental properties in Queensland were represented by professional property managers, but there was a small cohort of self-managed lessors and potentially many more flying under the regulatory radar.

“Real estate professionals are required by law to understand and comply with a raft of ever-changing and complex legislation and they take this responsibility very seriously,” she said.

“These professionals are well educated by the peak body and understand legislative requirements surrounding tenancy agreements and minimum housing standards.

“Chances are that those deplorably looking to rent out backyards, garages and storage spaces for a quick buck are self-managed would-be ‘lessors’ who are either ignorant of the law or are blatantly thumbing their noses at it.”

Ms Mercorella said even if a lessor’s property was not managed by a professional property manager, there was no excuse for non-compliance as the Residential Tenancies Authority provided a suite of free educational resources and information on lessor obligations.

She said it was also a timely opportunity for the State Government to raise the bar for qualifications to be a real estate professional and to clean up the deficient education providers in the sector.

“When you consider the incredibly important work that real estate professionals are performing, and the complex legislative environment they operate within, it’s essential we set the right entry threshold requirements,” she said.

“The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) has already launched a review into real estate education providers. 

“It’s time for urgent action to stop diploma factories that are just providing quick tick and flick real estate courses.

“It’s also important that the ongoing education of real estate professionals is addressed with the long-overdue introduction of quality mandatory continuing professional development (CPD) to maintain and broaden real estate practitioner’s knowledge, competence and compliance.”

Ms Mercorella said it was a shocking sign of insufficient social housing supply, that Queenslanders were seeking the relative safety of private backyards over camping in public parks.

“The chronic social housing underspend over the past decade is being laid bare – none of us wants to see people living in tents or sleeping in cars but that is the harsh reality before us,” she said.

“Only 270 social houses were completed in our state last year, compared to a growing social housing waitlist of more than 43,000 Queenslanders.

“Vulnerable people who are desperate for shelter, safety and security have been left to make impossible choices.”

An RTA spokesperson said in some instances, the renting out of sheds, storage spaces or garages, which are used or intended to be used as a place of residence, may fall under the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008, however this would need to be determined on a case-by-case basis.

“Generally, these spaces would not typically be covered under the Act,” the spokesperson said.

“If the arrangement did fall under the Act, a General tenancy agreement (Form 18a) or Rooming accommodation agreement (Form R18) are used. 

“If tenants are not sure whether the Act applies to them, they can make an urgent application to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) for a determination.”

The spokesperson said either agreement must include standard and any special terms, including about utilities and how these should be paid.

“Regardless of the agreement, property managers/owners must ensure all residential rental premises meet minimum housing standards (prescribed for new and renewed tenancies from 1 September 2023 and all remaining tenancies from 1 September 2024) and ensure the premises are reasonably safe and secure, in good repair, as well as meeting their obligations under the Act,” they said. 

“If a rental bond is taken, it must be lodged with the RTA within 10 days.”

The spokesperson said the RTA’s ability to undertake compliance and enforcement activities relied on whether the rental arrangement falls under the Act.

“The RTA understands that it is a challenging rental market and encourages all parties to act reasonably, communicate openly and work together to find solutions to make renting work for everyone,” they said.

Queenslanders are encouraged to contact the RTA for tenancy information and support on 1300 366 311 (Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5pm) or visit the RTA website.

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Kylie Dulhunty

Kylie Dulhunty is the Editor at Elite Agent.