Property investment bodies were snubbed from attending Queensland housing summit

Jul 2023Karen Millers

Two property investment bodies snubbed for a seat at the table at the state’s housing summit will be contacted by Housing Minister Meaghan Scanlon’s office this morning, she’s confirmed.

The comments came as Ms Scanlon also pointed to Queensland’s popularity as an interstate migration destination for pushing rents higher than Melbourne.

“We’re doing everything we can to obviously help renters right now with reforms that protect their rights, but also get the balance right,” she said.

“And we’re unlocking more supply both with the private sector as well as social and affordable housing.”

The summit snub was revealed as Treasurer Cameron Dick doubled down on his claim the state government’s tinkering in the sector had not contributed to the housing crisis.

But Property Investment Professionals of Australia has slammed the government for not engaging with investors, with chair Nicola McDougall saying “to be disengaged, you must have been engaged in the first place”.

Treasurer Cameron Dick says the government is supporting the private sector to build more houses. Picture: Liam Kidston

With private investors housing an estimated 90 per cent of the state’s renters, Ms McDougall said she was “perplexed” the Property Investment Professionals of Australia and sister organisation Property Investors Council of Australia had not been given a seat at October’s housing summit.

“We requested an invitation to be at that forum, and we have requested time and time again to have some representation in dealings with the government – we have always been knocked backed,” she said.

“We represent the people – and what we want is to try and get the state government to recognise the vital role that investors play in the provision of rental properties in this state.”

Ms Scanlon she was “happy to meet with anyone” who wants to talk about housing opportunities.

“I understand that my office will be reaching out with them this morning to have a further conversation,” she said.

On Tuesday Mr Dick appeared to dismiss Australian Bureau of Statistics data released this week showing new investor loans had plummeted by 24 per cent in the past 12 months – saying Queensland was coming off a “high base” – and saying lending patterns were on par with other states.

“The reality is since last year we’ve had a very significant increase in the cash rate which has flowed through mortgages – and that’s been challenging for investors. That’s just the reality – we don’t control that as a state.

“We’re pulling every possible lever we can to get more supply into the market, to get more apartments, to get more houses, to get more dwellings of any kind into the market.

“We’re doing our bit to support the private sector – that’s how we’re going to get more houses”.

But Ms McDougall said both their annual investor survey and research showed the state government’s changes to tenancy rights, the land tax threat and talk of a rent freeze had led to huge numbers of investors pulling their properties from the private rental market.

PIPA’s most recent survey last September found 45 per cent of investors had sold at least one property in the two years prior – and ongoing cost pressures and regulatory changes meant that number would likely stay high.

“Many investors feel they have lost control of their assets, and they are sick and tired of being treated like a cash cow for state government coffers,” she said.

“Investors need a voice, just as tenants’ need a voice, and one can’t exist without the other.

“They should be treated equally – but they’re not.

Real Estate Institute of Queensland chief operating officer Dean Milton said while interest rates rises had impacted the sector – “it’s not the whole story”.

“The RBA has only really impacted in the last 12 months, that’s part of the issue – the cost of money has gone up,” he said.

“But also if you are looking at the rental side specifically, it’s an ever changing landscape of regulatory reforms – there’s been three regulatory reforms in the last three years alone.

“There’s a lack of stability in the regulatory environment in Queensland, and the government doesn’t want to be able to encourage the private sector to provide these houses.

“They sit there and go ‘it’s all the RBA’s fault’ when they aren’t paying respect to the private capital, but at the same time they aren’t building enough social housing.

“Social housing numbers have never been so low, previously Queensland used to build 1700 a year back in the 70s and 80s – it’s down to below 500 now.

“It’s not just the last 12 months, it’s been an avalanche of issues in the last eight to twelve years.”

Originally Published: Stephanie BennettMadura McCormack, and Andreas Nicola | Gold Coast Bulletin | 5 July 2023

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