Mr PERRETT (Gympie—LNP) (4.53 pm): I rise to speak on the Housing Legislation Amendment
Bill. In accordance with my register of interests I advise the House that I own a rental property.
The bill aims to amend a number of acts in favour of tenants as part of the government’s Housing
Strategy 2017-27. It also aims to amend the Retirement Villages Act to provide certainty, security and
peace of mind to residents of freehold resident operated retirement villages, implement the intent of the
recommendations made during an independent review of the time frames for the payment of existing
entitlements in Queensland retirement villages and create a framework to exempt freehold resident
operated retirement villages from the 18-month mandatory buyback requirements.
This government seems incapable of designing well-considered legislation. It rushes in only to
find that numerous pieces of legislation must be walked back and amended soon after. Despite
warnings of problems, it pushes through with its blindly ignorant agenda. The government frequently
creates more problems because it does not understand how people react to imposed regulations and
mandatory rules. It does not understand regional and rural areas. This bill is the result of the mess that
the government has made of housing strategies and strategies regarding retirement villages. It is
walking back some of its overreach and radical proposals.
In 2019, the government released the two-stage reform under the A better renting future reform
roadmap. That follows on from their 2018 Open doors to renting reform consultation, only a year earlier.
Under the 2018 consultation, radical aspects of rental reform were canvassed such as a tenant’s right
to make renovations to a property and the right to keep pets, as well as long-term fixed leases. Following
a campaign run by the LNP opposition and the Real Estate Institute of Queensland, a majority of
extreme reform proposals have been removed.
Nevertheless, there are a number of concerns about the provisions left in the bill. It unfairly tips
the balance of rights and needs to tenants. There is not one single proposal in the bill that would benefit
lessors. Renting is a mutual arrangement between the person who owns the property and the tenant.
The needs of lessors should be considered. Hundreds of submissions from individual property owners,
lessors, property managers, and industry and professional associations have all raised concerns about
the adverse impacts this bill will have on the rights of lessors and property managers.
Ninety per cent of Queensland’s rental housing market is provided by private owners. There are
an estimated 1.65 million households in Queensland and more than one-third of them rent. Families
with children are the largest renting group, followed by people living on their own and couples without
children. Only three years ago, in 2018-19, 13 per cent of Queensland taxpayers reported having an
investment or an interest in a rental property. That was an 18 per cent increase since 2008-09. Across
Queensland, rural rental vacancy rates have tightened across almost every council or region in
Queensland. A tight rental market is when the vacancy rates are below 2.5 per cent. In most
Queensland regions, vacancy rates are below 1.5 per cent. That is tight.
Speech By
Tony Perrett
Record of Proceedings, 13 October 2021
Tony_Perrett-Gympie-20211013-660897525774.docx Page 2 of 2
In Gympie, local real estate agents are reporting a tight property market, properties sold sight
unseen and rentals snapped up as soon as they hit the market, and there is next to nothing for anyone
who needs crisis accommodation. Whether you call it social housing, crisis housing or welfare housing,
homelessness is soaring across the Gympie region. The pressure on the private rental market is putting
pressure on the social or welfare housing list. My office is receiving calls from distressed residents trying
to find crisis accommodation. Distressed private renters are contacting me saying that it is harder and
harder to find somewhere to live. The Real Estate Institute of Queensland’s latest quarterly rent report
shows Gympie vacancies dropped from 0.4 per cent to 0.3 per cent between March and June this year.
As I said earlier, the government frequently creates a mess because it does not understand the
impact of its proposals. The statement of reservation outlines the problems the LNP identified with the
elimination of periodic agreements. It will remove flexibility for both parties and, most significantly,
reduce rental options. The Queensland Law Society has warned, ‘We are concerned that the legislation
will have adverse unintended consequences; for example … increasing the loss of housing stock for
short-term rental’.
This bill also makes a number of amendments to the Retirement Villages Act 1999 to exempt
freehold resident operated retirement villages from the existing statutory buyback requirements. The
government was warned about the adverse impact of the mandatory buyback provisions in both 2017
and 2019. It ignored those warnings. It sent small-time operators into liquidation and threatened the
viability of retirement villages. Under the law, if retirement home unit owners could not sell their property
within 18 months, the village operator was required to purchase it at market value. That had a
detrimental impact on small-scale retirement villages that are a feature of regional areas.
In my own electorate, the Cooloola Waters Retirement Village in Tin Can Bay went into liquidation
as a direct result of the state legislation. It was a small community of units. Rodney Lohse and his
mother, Gay, ran the village. The family had been in business in Gympie for 70 years. They were not
quitters. The Cooloola Waters Retirement Village faced a bill of more than $2 million to buy 14 units.
Compounding matters is that most banks are unwilling to lend money to operators against the village
assets. This is particularly so when the village residents could be listed as the first creditors if things
went sideways. The Lohses advised the minister that turnover of units was low and that they would be
lucky to sell one unit a year. They had to buy back 14 units. They wrote to the minister. I wrote to the
minister. Despite raising the problem, the minister’s response ignored the warnings and said they could
take their concerns to QCAT.
As the committee report notes, many submitters suggested that applying to QCAT would be
stressful and intimidating. The government was wiping its hands of the mess it had created. The
Cooloola Waters Retirement Village had been a fixture in Tin Can Bay for 30 years and was running in
the black. However, it could not fund the mandatory buyback. What tipped them over were the changes
to state legislation.
Debate, on motion of Mr Perrett, adjourned.
Mr PERRETT (Gympie—LNP) (6.12 pm), continuing: The government was wiping its hands of the
mess it had created. The Cooloola Waters retirement village had been a fixture in Tin Can Bay for 30
years and was running in the black. However, it could not fund the mandatory buyback. What tipped
them over were the changes to state legislation which the Lohses said left them like lab rats in a maze
with no exit. They told the Gympie Times—
We’re not in the red, there was no loss, there’s no debt owing. We’re one of the most solvent villages in the state.
They were forced into liquidation to avoid any risk of insolvent trading as they could not pour
$2 million of their own money in and borrow against their units. There are approximately 329 retirement
village schemes in Queensland. They comprise 31,236 units. They accommodate an estimated 43,730
residents. This bill will now amend the RV Act to allow the minister to exempt specific retirement villages
from the mandatory buyback obligation. It should not have taken this long for the government to sort
out an issue which impacts some of the more vulnerable members of the community.