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Workplace Safety and Consumer Affairs – Tasmanian Residential Rental Property Owners Association

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Monday, 6 June 2022

Tags: Housing, Housing Crisis, Tenant Rights

Ms O'CONNOR - Minister, I have three questions relating to the Tasmanian Residential Rental Property Owners Association. The first one is:

Did the $100 000 grant funding to TRRPOA have any obligations, reporting requirements or KPIs of any kind attached or was it no strings attached?

Ms ARCHER - There were requirements and it was in the agreement itself as four specifics. I am just trying to turn that up for you. None of us has managed to find it yet. I know it is here.

Ms O'CONNOR - You knew we would ask about it.

Ms ARCHER - I know. You know what happens when you want to find something and you can't find it?

Ms O'CONNOR - Yes.

Ms HADDAD - You get to the stage where you can't see it at all.

Ms ARCHER - It doesn't answer that specific question about the agreement, but Mr Graham can probably fill in the blanks. I know there were requirements and reporting requirements within the agreement itself. I haven't the information here in front of me.

Mr GRAHAM - An agreement was put in place between the department and the Tasmanian Residential Rental Property Owners Association which required them to undertake certain things and produce certain information and advice for their members. I can't be exhaustive about what those were but they were largely educative materials.

Ms ARCHER - It was for the delivery of services to educate their members on compliance and other things, from memory.

Mr GRAHAM - I can say that I meet periodically with Ms Elliot from the Tasmanian Residential Rental Property Owners Association and the work that organisation has done has focused on these areas of noncompliance that are common in owner-managed properties, which are quite different to the issues that would be faced more broadly; they definitely are less sophisticated as property managers.

Ms ARCHER - They don't use real estate agents, in other words. They do the property management.

Mr GRAHAM - Often things can escalate quite quickly when things go wrong, so part of the advice and materials that the organisation has been developing is really trying to stop some of those things occurring before they do.

Ms ARCHER - To de-escalate disputes or prevent them happening in the first place, or resolving them quickly without the need to go to formal proceedings.

Ms O'CONNOR - The second of my three questions is: The Residential Rental Property Owners Association's website claims this funding was for three online learning modules - a comprehensive toolkit for landlords, an online compliance check tool, a legal Q&A service information session and start-up costs. Minister, of these promises, all we could find delivered a year after is two out of the three promised learning modules, and these modules are in fact PowerPoint presentations with a couple of quizzes that ask true-or-false questions like 'Smoke alarms do not have to be fitted by the owner as the tenant brings their own when they move in'. The association still has a vacant secretary position. Minister, in your opinion, is this a good enough output after a year for the $100 000 in public funds gifted to them?

Ms ARCHER - The grant deed was executed in October 2021 so it is not a full 12 months. The budget period is earlier but the grant was not executed until October 2021. As for the monitoring of compliance, that is done through CBOS. When that funding ceases, there will need to be an assessment done, I would have thought, with compliance, or is that done more frequently? I will throw that to Mr Graham because it is an operational matter.

Mr GRAHAM - They are required to provide reports and updates on their progress, and they have done that for us. Most recently, probably about six weeks ago, members of my office went through some of their educational material to ensure it complied with the act and other things so that the advice that they were providing was consistent with the law as it is applied in Tasmania. I must say we have found that process particularly worthwhile in the sense that the organisation is able to get to landlords that don't frequently use our website, for example. In that sense, it is an extension of the advice available to landlords which, as the minister mentioned, de-escalates things that could go wrong later.

Ms O'CONNOR - At least one of the services promised by the Tasmanian Residential Rental Property Owners Association is, according to their website, planned to be an exclusive service to their members. Is your Government in the habit of providing public money for the development of commercial services offered by private entities, the coordinator of which has announced a run for council in October this year, one year after the signing of the $100 000 deed agreement?

Ms ARCHER - Obviously, that needs to be separate and distinct - what Ms Elliott is doing and we would be monitoring that through CBOS.

Ms O'CONNOR - She is using public money to raise her profile, unarguably.

Ms ARCHER - I am conscious of the fact. Certainly, the funding is not for that purpose and I would think and hope that CBOS is monitoring that. I am sure they are because we are conscious of that. I do not know if Mr Graham has anything further to say about that.

Ms O'CONNOR - It is more of a political question.

Ms ARCHER - It is more of a political question but I can express a distinct view about, and the money is not to be used for anything other than what it's been provided under the agreement and the strict requirements required in relation to that and the reporting requirements that Mr Graham has just pointed out.

Ms O'CONNOR - It certainly helped her to raise her profile.