Tenants Queensland celebrate 30 years of service

Sep 2016

Tenants Queensland (TQ) has a long and proud history of advocating for tenants’ rights.

This year marks 30 years of service to the residential renting sector and TQ Chief Executive Officer Penny Carr said there were many achievements to be proud of.

"Tenants Queensland was formed in 1986 and at that time the issue was about having an independent and centralised body that could hold rental bonds," Ms Carr said.

"There was a real power imbalance because tenants would pay the bond to the landlord and at the end of a tenancy, and in a lot of cases, tenants wouldn’t get any of the bond back and had little avenue to complain."

In 1989 the campaigning for an independent body to hold rental bonds came to fruition with the establishment of the Rental Bond Authority, which later broadened its role and became the Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA).

Since then, TQ has successfully campaigned on behalf of tenants on several issues including the addition of Rooming Accommodation legislation which has been incorporated into the Act. This change impacted residents and service providers in hostels and boarding houses.

Another key achievement is the establishment of tenancy database laws in 2002 with Queensland being the first state or territory to provide effective protection for tenants from unfair listings. These laws have since gone national.

"TQ has always worked hard to protect as well as improve tenants’ rights," Ms Carr said.

"Tenancy is complicated for consumers and many people face challenges. Our work is based around supporting people to maintain their tenancies and to help make those tenancies safe and secure."

Future priorities

Last year the Queensland Government invested $26.4 million over four years to establish a statewide service that provides free and independent tenant advisory services to Queenslanders.

"I think it’s so great that the government has committed to the establishment of Queensland Statewide Tenant Advice and Referral Service (QSTARS) and they’ve recognised the importance of a service like this," Ms Carr said.

"The benefits of supporting tenants not only has an impact on the tenant but they have positive impacts on the whole community."

Spotlight on housing: The Queensland Statewide Tenant Advice and Referral Service (QSTARS)

The QSTARS program is managed by TQ and delivered in collaboration with partner organisations across Queensland.

QSTARS aims to ensure people understand their rights and responsibilities and assists tenants to exercise their rights and fulfil their obligations.

Services revolve around a statewide centralised phone advice service known as the HUB, which provides a single entry point for all QSTARS services.

Staff initially assess the needs of each client, the complexity of their tenancy issue and their ability to act on their own behalf before considering the need for further support or referral to regional partners across Queensland.

Referrals from the HUB to a regional provider for a higher level of assistance may relate to the complexity of the matter, the client’s capacity to understand and respond to advice, or specific characteristics of the issue, for example, literacy barriers.

Persons eligible to access QSTARS services include:

  • Tenants or prospective tenants
  • Residents of rooming accommodation or a prospective resident
  • A person enquiring about tenancy or residency matters on behalf of a tenant or resident.

QSTARS aims to:

  • Increase tenants’ understanding of and ability to exercise their right and understand their responsibilities
  • Empower and build tenants’ capacity to take action to resolve their own issue in order to maintain their tenancy
  • Advocate to help tenants communicate with their landlord or agent
  • Assist tenants to write letters or fill out tenancy forms
  • Assist tenants to attend or prepare for a QCAT tenancy tribunal hearing
  • Provide referral to other services if needed.

Support workers wanting more information are encouraged to contact QSTARS on 1300 744 263.