Ok, not quite — but the Queensland party has released a policy to “fix the rigged system that treats renters as cash cows for real estate agents and property developers.”
The Queensland Renters’ Rights plan involves renters having access to unlimited leases, which they could cancel with three months notice. Landlords would be required to give 12 months notice of the termination of a lease and even then would only be able to do so on “reasonable grounds”.
The policy would also prevent tenants from being evicted from the home if the property owner wanted live in the home themselves or put it on the market.
Generously, the Greens policy would allow the property to evict the tenant after three months in the event of non-payment of rent — although the landlord would also only be able to increase rents every 24 months.
Greens candidate Kirsten Lovejoy heralded the policy, “Renters have been screwed over for so long that they just assume this is the way it is – unfair rent hikes and evictions, unsafe and unhealthy dwellings, unable to own a pet or hang a picture, all the while not knowing if they will have to move when their lease is up in twelve or six months.”
But sadly for Lovejoy and the Greens inner city voters, policies that decrease the incentive to build new housing stock will have the reverse effect on rents.
The overall cost of renting has gone down across Brisbane, but increased in some blue chip suburbs such as Ascot and South Brisbane. Perhaps unsurprisingly, these are the same suburbs where Green voters are clustered.
Ascot, the suburb that has seen the largest increase in rent is found in the seat of Brisbane, the same seat that Kirsten Lovejoy ran for as a Greens candidate during the 2016 election. Perhaps, just maybe, this policy has less to do with affordable housing and more to do with affordable housing in the affluent areas where Green voters choose to live.
The Greens, however, do have form in undermining the property rights of landlords. Jonathan Sri the Greens Councillor for Woolloongabba Ward (South Brisbane, the other affluent suburb experiencing increase rent) has previously advocated for and practiced squatting in unoccupied housing. Stunts like this show the Greens aren’t serious about addressing housing affordability, but instead appealing to their inner city constituencies.
There is a lesson in this for the major political parties: housing affordability provides an opportunity for socialists. Simplistic solutions like this are appealing to people who feel left behind in the housing market. Home ownership has always been the bedrock of capitalism in this country. It creates an appreciation and respect for private property and builds the wealth of the middle class.
Government policies that prevent the creation of new housing stock or transformation of old housing stock threaten our society. State governments need to release land and local governments need to allow inner city areas to increase in density so supply can keep pace with demand.
Too often, the problem of housing affordability isn’t greedy landlords or floods of immigrants, but government that’s all too keen to over regulate the housing market.
While Brisbane may not be having a housing affordability crisis, Sydney and Melbourne certainly do.
Both Labor and the Coalition need to address the government created issues behind this crisis if they are going to reduce the appeal of the Greens and their simplistic solutions. Socialism, not even once.
Justin Campbell is General Manager of LibertyWorks Inc.
Illustration: Village Roadshow.
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