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Queensland Rental Law Reform

Queensland Rental Law Reform

What is the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act?

The Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 (Qld) (the ‘Act’) comprise of various rules applicable to renting a place to live in Queensland, whether it be a room, boarding house, or home.

The Housing Legislation Amendment Act 2021 has made amendments to the Act in an aim to improve safety, security and certainty in the Queensland rental market. Despite the intent being to ‘bridge the gap’ between tenants and property owners’ rights, it appears that favour lies in the hands of the tenants with the rights of property owners significantly reduced by the reform.

What changes has the reform implemented?

The reform is introducing changes in an attempt to promote fairness and better balancing of renter and property owner rights. They have sought to achieve this by making changes to:

  • Domestic and Family Violence Preventions;
  • Ending Tenancies Fairly;
  • Renting with Pets; and
  • Minimum Housing Standards.
How do these impact upon me as a landlord?

The following are some (but not all) of the changes brought about by the reform:

Domestic and Family Violence (DFV) Protections:

From 20 October 2021, if your renter is experiencing DFV they will be able to bypass a number of requirements and financial obligations associated with terminating a tenancy, such as:

  • they are able to leave immediately (after giving 7 days’ notice) and access any bond contribution they made;
  • will have break lease fees capped at 1 week’s rent;
  • any remaining co-renters can be asked to top-up the bond by the property owner or manager.

They further benefit from the changes in that they are not liable for any property damage caused by DFV and are able to change the locks to the property without requiring the owner’s consent.

They are however required to provide documentation to support their claim and property. Any information provided by the tenant claiming DFV must not be disclosed by the owners, managers and their employees or they may be subject to penalties.

Ending Tenancies Fairly:

Changes under the reform will see property owners lose their right to use ‘without grounds’ as a reason to end a periodic tenancy. Under the new rules, property owners need to rely upon undertaking significant repair and renovation, change of use or sale or preparation for sale of the rental property as grounds to require vacant possession in order to end a periodic tenancy.

The tenants, however, have retained their rights and also gained new grounds for ending tenancies, such as the property is not in good repair, or does not comply with the minimum house standards.

Tenants maintain the ability to end an agreement ‘without grounds’; and both renters and property owners must provide an appropriate notice for the grounds they are using to end the agreement.

If you wish to terminate the tenancy for significant or serious breach of the lease by a tenant, you will be able to seek an order from the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT).  The tenants, however, may in turn apply to QCAT for an order to set a notice to leave aside if they believe is has been issued in retaliation for them enforcing their rights.

Renting with Pets

Under the reform, your rights as a property owner to have a ‘no pets policy’ has essentially been abolished. While tenants are still required to ask for approval to keep a pet, you may only refuse a request on prescribed grounds (such as a breach of law or by-laws).

To mitigate the tensions undoubtedly to arise from the change, the Government introduced further provisions for owners in that:

  • pet damage has been excluded from fair wear and tear, allowing property owners to seek compensation for damage caused by the pets; and
  • the owner may impose conditions on the approval of a pet (such as the pet remains outdoors). A violation of the condition could result in a breach of the general tenancy agreement.

Minimum Housing Standards

Leases entered into from 1 September 2023 and all tenancies from 1 September 2024, the following prescribed minimum housing standards have been implemented to ensure the property is in good working, inhabitable order:

  • The premises be weatherproof and structurally sound;
  • Fixtures and fittings are to be in good repair and not likely to cause injury to a person;
  • Locks on windows and doors;
  • The premises to be free of vermin, damp and mould;
  • Privacy coverings;
  • Adequate plumbing and drainage;
  • Functioning kitchen and laundry facilities (where supplied).

In respect of residential tenancies, the renter will have 7 days to complete and return the entry condition report and both tenant and property managers can authorise emergency repairs for the equivalent of 4 weeks rent.

Next Steps

If you are experiencing difficulty in respect your tenancy, need to know about your rights or residential tenancy, you should seek legal advice. There can be significant impacts and implications for not seeking appropriate advice.

This is general information only and does not constitute legal advice.

If you or someone you know would like more information or require advice about anything raised in this article, please contact us on (07) 5458 6855 or email mklein@kleinlegal.com.au