Queensland To Close Rent Bidding Loophole Because Dodgy Landlords Are Still Skirting The Law

The Queensland government is moving to ban rental bidding once and for all, in a rare move that shows governments actually do think about renters sometimes.

The proposed changes would make it illegal for a property to be rented out at more than the advertised rent, meaning landlords and property managers would not be allowed to accept better offers.

Rental bidding instigated by landlords and property managers is already illegal everywhere in Australia, but a loophole means renters themselves are still legally allowed to offer more than the advertised price in order to secure a home.

And it’s clear they do, especially as the rental crisis drags on. With the national vacancy rate (the number of homes available to rent) sitting at a historic low, competition is fierce, and housing advocates hope the proposed Queensland laws will be adopted around the country.

Queensland housing minister Meaghan Scanlon the rules meand renters won’t have to worry about find additional money when they move.

“More than 600,000 Queensland households rent. These reforms are about making renting fairer, safer and easier.”

“Renters will have their privacy protected and a new code of conduct will stamp out dodgy and unprofessional practices.”

Tenants’ Union of NSW policy and advocacy manager Jemima Mowbray told Choice that rental bidding was an “unfortunate reality” in all of Australia’s main centres.

“Renters often find themselves in a very stressful situation, worried that if they don’t find a new home in time, they’ll have nowhere to go,” she said.

“They may feel like their only option is to make an offer above the advertised price. Some will do this knowing it will be a stretch on their budget, but they may feel they have no choice.” 

She said the crackdown on illegal bidding practices by property managers wasn’t working, and laws needed to go further.

“Some agents continue to encourage applicants to offer higher rent if they’re keen to get an advantage over others when applying for a property.

“In order to genuinely end rent bidding, landlords and their agents should not be allowed to accept offers of rent above what property is advertised for. Penalties should apply where they’re in breach of this.” 

The law could also ban the practice of renters paying several months of rent up front, and although these changes won’t end high rents, they should level the playing field for those trying to secure a home.

Despite being illegal, some property managers still encourage rent bidding. Image: Getty.

Emma (not her real name), a 25-year-old renter in Sydney, told PEDESTRIAN.TV she’d offered extra money out of desperation.

“I have only [offered more] once in my life because I was desperate, and it did not work,” they said.

“I was applying for a 2.5 bedroom home in south west Sydney that was going for $600 a week. We had been to dozens of inspections by then and been rejected from every single home we applied to. So we offered $650.

“Most people do it, especially in the housing crisis.”

They said the property manager rejected the offer and then advertised the home again for $750, which they believe was based off “high demand”.

Landlords will take renters for every penny and then refuse to fix ovens and paint over mould, so anything that stops dodgy practices is a welcome move. However, until governments can prove they can enforce their own laws, I wouldn’t hold your breath to the end of rent bidding any time soon.