The grandparents of a baby girl killed in a tragic accident at a Central Queensland rental property today (Sunday) supported the Palaszczuk Government’s commitment to residential tenancy reform - which they hope will prevent “future tragedies”.
Lyn and Ken Diefenbach have been advocating for prescribed minimum standards for rental properties since the death of their seven-week-old granddaughter Isabella in 2010. Their son was holding baby Bella when a rotten floorboard gave way on the deck of their rental property, and his daughter tragically fell from his arms.
Mrs Diefenbach said Isabella’s death had been “cataclysmic” for the family.
“It’s an ongoing thing, and I don’t think for any family who suffers any trauma, it ever goes away. And it could have been avoided, and it was certainly seen as a preventable incident”.
Mr Diefenbach said he hoped the government’s Open Doors to Renting Reform consultation on property conditions, including minimum standards, would prevent future tragedies – and encouraged all Queenslanders to have their say.
“We want Bella’s death to count for something and we’re pleased there’s now an opportunity for this and other issues to be addressed,” he said. “What we would like is that if anything is identified in a rental property that is not safe, that the tenants are notified as well as the property owner.
“And some sort of regulatory body that’s got teeth so that if nothing is done about it, there are consequences for the property owner and for the agency that’s handling and managing the property.”
Housing Minister Mick de Brenni – who meet with the Diefenbachs in Brisbane earlier this month – said prescribed minimum standards in rental properties would ensure Queenslanders never “felt like they had to live in a dangerous home”.
“Queenslanders deserve to know that basic living and safety standards are met in their homes, whether or not they rent it or own it. The Palaszczuk Government is determined to deliver outcomes – and a legacy for baby Bella, and that is why it is so important we hear directly from families like the Diefenbachs.
“At the time of this tragedy, the Coroner handed down recommendations that compelled reform to ensure a tragedy like this never happens again.”
Member for Keppel Brittany Lauga, who organised the Brisbane meeting between the Diefenbachs and Mr de Brenni, said all Queenslanders deserved a safe, secure and sustainable home.
“The sad circumstances surrounding Bella’s family is just one tragic example of why these laws need reforming, and why protection needs to be stepped up,” Mrs Lauga said.
“Queensland has one of the highest proportions of people renting in Australia, and many will rent for part or all of their lives. This government wants Queenslanders to have contemporary residential tenancy laws that protect tenants and property owners alike.”
The Open Doors to Renting Reform consultation program, which runs until November 30 2018, is being conducted by the Department of Housing and Public Works in conjunction with the Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA) and aims to ensure the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 provides better protections for tenants and property owners and increases stability in the rental market.
The website, survey and information on consultation events can be found at: www.qld.gov.au/rentinginqld or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or share your thoughts on social media using the hashtag #rentinginqld
Minister for Housing and Public Works, Minister for Digital Technology and Minister for Sport
The Honourable Mick de Brenni