Penny Carr is the CEO at Tenants Queensland. She has been working with Tenants Queensland for more than 20 years. In a previous life, she was a social worker, and she has had vast experience in both social policy and systems change.
Penny says she loves working with Tenants Queensland as it gives her the chance to work across these two fields.
“Tenants Queensland is a direct service, but we also advocate to protect and improve the rights of people renting in Queensland,” she explains.
Tenants Queensland has been part of the Make Renting Fair in Queensland Alliance since its inception. The alliance, which QCOSS is part of, is a group of 14 organisations supporting progressive renting changes so all Queenslanders can make the place they live in their home, whether they rent or own.
Penny says the Make Renting Fair campaign evolved when the Department of Housing and Public Works released the Queensland Housing Strategy 2017-27 Action Plan.
From the 10-year plan, which provides a roadmap for housing in Queensland, the campaign naturally grew.
“It was clear from the housing strategy that a review of tenancy laws would be undertaken,” she explains. What’s more, Queensland renters have been begging for renting changes.
“The roar from renters across the country is getting louder and louder,” she says.
After consultations with the community last year, the state government released a suite of proposed changes. The five proposed reforms are: Ending Tenancies Fairly; Minimum Standards; Renting With Pets; Minor Modifications; and Domestic and Family Violence.
Overall, Penny says the proposed changes are very good.
“The Make Renting Fair Alliance supports the package as it will help Queensland renters create a home,” she says. “These changes will bring Queensland in line with other states,” she says.
Penny says the proposed changes are good for all Queenslanders.
“Most owners want stable tenants. Long term, safe and stable tenancies are good for everyone,” she says.
When analysed, the proposed changes are not big changes, Penny explains.
“The changes give renters agency to create a home for themselves and their families,” she says. “It is simple changes, like being able to decorate a baby’s room or creating a garden so it feels like home.”
Although these changes are simple, the proposed changes would make a world of difference to renters in Queensland. A 2018 report by CHOICE, National Shelter and NATO found 51 per cent of Australians who rent are living in a home that is currently in need of repairs. The same report found nearly half (44 per cent) of these renters are concerned that a request for repairs could result in an eviction.
Penny says if the proposed changes are passed as they stand, as per the Regulatory Impact Statement, rental properties will need to meet a set of minimum standards. If they don’t, enhancements to existing repair and maintenance provisions will provide effective methods to enforce those standards and protect vulnerable renters from exploitative situations. Additionally, the Ending Tenancies Reform proposal will empower tenants to make requests without fear of retaliatory eviction.
“Tenants should be able to assert their rights in repairs and maintenance without fear of eviction in retaliation,” Penny says.
There is no better time than right now to let the state government know you support their rental changes as they stand.
“The government needs to know that these changes are supported by the community,” Penny says.
“We need the government to hold their ground,” she says.
Sign up as a supporter on the Make Renting Fair in Queensland website. If you have any questions, please contact Make Renting Fair in Queensland or call 0402 596 297.