Ok, not quite, but they have released their new policy to, “fix the rigged system that treats renters as cash cows for real estate agents and property developers.” Not even joking, this is a real policy. According to Brisbane Times, 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 and would only be able to terminate a lease 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 wanted to sell it. Generously, the Greens policy would allow the property to evict the tenant after three months in the event of non-payment of rent. The landlord would also only be able to increase rents every 24 months.
Greens candidate Kirsten Lovejoy said, “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.”
Sadly for the Green’s inner city voters, policies that decrease the incentive to build new housing stock will have the reverse effect on rents. The Courier Mail reported that the overall cost of renting had gone down across Brisbane, but had 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 councilor 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. Economist Bradley Rogers wrote about these barriers in his article, Old Queenslanders in a new city.” 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 LNP 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.