Does Qld need a public landlord register?

As the Queensland government gears up for an upcoming housing summit to tackle the state’s supply issue, a suggested public landlord register has been rebuked as “unjustified” by the state’s peak real estate body. 

antonia mercorella reiq spi syszub

In the lead-up to a housing summit set to kick off on 20 October — which aims to address “multiple housing issues” plaguing the Queensland market by bringing together stakeholders and experts — Tenants Queensland has proposed the establishment of a public landlord register to “shine a light on property ownership and use”.

The advocacy group’s chief executive Penny Carr said the proposal could help “keep rogue landlords honest”. 

The register could include information about owners, including how many properties they own and where they live.

Data collected could also include renting intentions, such as if properties were rented out on a short- or long-term basis or being left vacant.


Ms Carr said the register would help inform housing policy and remedy an observed imbalance of power between the state’s tenants and landlords. 

“When renters are trying to secure a property, they provide a whole lot of information about themselves, usually to a real estate agent, sometimes before they even see a property. But [the tenant] knows little, if anything, about the landlord.

“We want to know who we are benefiting when we make those policy decisions because, usually, policy has winners and losers,” she said.

In response, the Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) criticised the proposal, slamming it as “redundant”. 

“Governments, at all levels, are already aware of who and how many property owners are providing housing for Queenslanders — they certainly know how to get in touch with them because they issue relevant tax, rates notices, and other fees directly to them,” REIQ chief executive Antonia Mercorella stated. 

The proposal was also panned by Ms Mercorella as an infringement on privacy.

“The suggestion that property owners’ personal details should be in a publicly available database flies in the face of privacy laws and is inappropriate — just as it would be if tenants’ details and personal information [were] disclosed in a public register.

“While we appreciate there [are] benefits to understanding investor behaviour, there are far better ways to gain these insights without forcing lessors to publicly disclose their personal information,” she commented. 

The executive also raised the institute’s concern that the register could be weaponised in one way or another against property investors. 

“We’re also concerned that if a landlord register was established under the guise of informing government policy, that the motive of using it to find new ways to punish and strongarm investors into decisions around how they use their property would inevitably become apparent,” Ms Mercorella said.

Furthermore, Ms Mercorella said the claim that tenants are in the dark about who their landlord is and that renters are on the disadvantaged side of rental agreements was unfounded.

“We acknowledge that tenants are handing over quite extensive information about themselves securely to the property manager or lessor as part of the tenancy application process,” she said.

“However, there’s a legitimate reason for conducting reasonable due diligence, to ensure that the applicant has the financial ability to pay the rent and meet the financial obligations, and similarly, has a good rental history which speaks to their ability to care for a property.”

The tenancy agreement, Ms Mercorella highlighted, already sets out an open communication line between the tenant and the landlords.

“Tenants have access to their property owner’s or their appointed representative’s contact details via a prescribed tenancy agreement, which must be used in Queensland when entering into residential tenancy relationships,” she explained.

Adding to her argument, the executive pointed out that there is already comprehensive legislation to oversee tenancies in the state. 

“In Queensland, we already have a regulatory framework [that] stipulates the standards of rental premises and inclusions, and there are enforceable consequences should these standards be breached,” Ms Mercorella said.

She also stressed that rental reforms being rolled out by the state government would already address some of the issues raised by the advocate group. 

“As part of the first stage of rental reforms, a broad range of new rights were introduced from 1 October 2022 to further empower tenants and provide statutory safeguards with respect to repairs and maintenance issues,” she stated. 

Some of the changes that came into effect at the start of the month included changes in notice periods, negotiations about pets, and repair orders.

Additionally, she emphasised that these rights and protections will be further fine-tuned with the introduction of minimum housing standards, which come into effect for new tenancies from September 2023.

“The REIQ acknowledges that there are a minority of property owners that aren’t doing the right thing, but we’d caution against reforms designed to target a select few when we know that in the vast majority of cases, property owners and tenants have respectful and positive relationships.

“This is evidenced by the annual data released by the Residential Tenancy Authority, who manage hundreds of thousands of tenancy inquiries in Queensland each year and resolve disputes between lessors and tenants,” she concluded. 

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