Minimum housing standards help save lives

Did you know that of the more than 55,000 rental properties assessed in Australia and New Zealand for landlords by PropertySafe to date, a staggering 76.7% had at least one major safety hazard identified, including urgent smoke alarm issues in several cases? Our team was invited to speak at the public hearing for housing reforms on July 20 and provide a submission report with our recommendations from a safety perspective. Here’s what we recommended and why every property manager and landlord should care.

Queensland has one of the highest proportions of renters in Australia, with more than 34% of households in rental accommodation. There is no doubt that a review of rental laws as they currently stand was long overdue.

For the reform to be effective and fair to all stakeholders:

• Tenants must be able to act on their right to live in a safe, secure home, which means reasonable repair and maintenance requests must be respected and acted upon;

• Landlords must have the right to expect to be paid their rent on time and that their tenants maintain the property in line with their expectations throughout the tenancy; and

• Property managers must have clarity around the laws so they can effectively manage the relationship between all parties and ensure the laws are complied with.

What is happening with the legislation?

The legislation for minimum housing standards in Queensland has been under review by the Committee of the Legislative Assembly and a report from them is due on August 6 at which time the proposed Housing Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 is expected to be passed.

After being invited to speak at the public hearing on July 20, we were asked to provide the Queensland government with a submission outlining our feedback and suggestions on the safety aspects of the new minimum housing standards in the proposed Amendment Bill.
As the leading residential property safety inspection group in Australia and New Zealand, our mission is to protect people and property.

Therefore, we strongly support any legislation that will ensure all Queensland rental properties are safe, secure and functional. We also agree that it is vital to introduce compliance mechanisms that are designed to enforce the minimum housing standards.

However, we have put forward a few recommendations to improve the current proposal, including the following additional suggestions to be added to Schedule 5A – Prescribed Minimum Housing Standards:

• Smoke alarm checks

• Minimising risk associated with slips, trips and falls

• Electrical safety associated with power points, light switches and safety switches

• Gas supply safety

• Asbestos awareness

• High window and balustrade fall risks

In our experience mitigating risks in these areas that have not been included in the Schedule will significantly reduce the risk of avoidable injury.

Further to the above suggestions, we have made a strong recommendation for the standards to include a requirement for semi-regular inspections by those qualified to do so.

Given tenants are often unaware of the risks and dangers in and around their home, many go unreported. And given property managers and landlords rarely have the necessary skills to know what to look for, it would be both unfair and highly risky to expect them to know what to look out for and burden them with that responsibility. As a property manager, how would you feel if it were up to you to deem a property safe or not simply through a routine inspection?

This is where we can assist by offering those semi-regular safety inspections, with all inspections carried out by a fully qualified and licenced safety inspector. We know our inspections save lives and prevent injury because they have to date.

We have put forward our suggestions and offer to help ensure compliance to the Government and now we wait along with the rest of the industry for the outcome. However, there is no need for you to wait for the outcome to recommend a safety inspection to your landlords. You can do that any time. Landlords achieve peace of mind, their exposure to personal injury claims is significantly reduced, and they can advertise the fact that their property has been safety inspected, which could potentially increase the rent they could earn and reduce their vacancy periods. To learn more or give us a call on 1300 350 000 to speak to a member of our team.

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