WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE NEW QUEENSLAND HOUSING LEGISLATION

If you are a tenant or landlord living in Queensland the way in which properties are managed is about to undergo significant change. The Housing Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 was last year passed by the Queensland Parliament and it has provided some key amendments to the current Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008.

HOW DID WE GET HERE

In September 2018, the Open Doors to Renting Reform Consultation was launched. Over 137,000 responses were received which saw renters, property owners and property managers provide feedback about their experiences of living in, owning or managing a rental property, and how it could be improved.

This was followed up by the release of the Better Renting Future Reform Roadmap in 2019.  It outlines a two-stage reform approach to address feedback received during the Open Doors consultation. Over 15,000 responses were received providing community feedback on detailed Stage 1 reform options, outlined in the Consultation Regulatory Impact Statement. It covered five key priority renting issues:

  • Ending leases fairly
  • Minimum Housing Standards
  • Domestic and family violence protections
  • Renting with pets
  • Minor modifications

In 2021 Bill was passed and is now law and stage 2 is now being discussed. The amendments deliver rental law reforms designed to improve safety, security and certainty for the Queensland rental market and aim to strike the right balance between renters and rental property owner interests for all parties to have:

  1. more certainty about their tenancy arrangements by encouraging greater transparency and accountability about intentions and decision making
  2. confidence their rental property is safe, secure and functional by strengthening repairs and maintenance obligations and prescribing Minimum Housing Standards
  3. certainty about how renters experiencing domestic and family violence can manage their tenancy arrangements to improve their safety without bearing the costs of the violence used against them
  4. frameworks to support negotiations about renting with pets and encourage more pet-friendly rental accommodation in Queensland.

FOUR KEY PROVISIONS IN THE NEW RENTAL REFORMS

  1. DOMESTIC & FAMILY VIOLENCE
  2. PETS
  3. NEW GROUNDS FOR TERMINATION (INC PERIODIC TENANCIES)
  4. MINIMUM HOUSING STANDARDS

WHEN WILL THE CHANGES HAPPEN?

The domestic and family violence provisions came into effect (received assent) on 20 October 2021, but they largely replicate what has already been in place as part of the COVID-19 provisions.

The rest of the provisions will come into effect on 1 October 2022.

Minimum housing standards for new tenancy arrangements commence from 1 September 2023 and all tenancies from 1 September 2024.

1. DOMESTIC & FAMILY VIOLENCE CHANGES ALREADY IN PLACE

  • A tenant can leave immediately (after giving 7 days notice) and access any bond contribution they made
  • Are not liable for property damage caused by DFV
  • Are not liable for costs relating to reletting the premises
  • Any remaining co-renters can be asked to top-up the bond by the property owner or manager
  • Can change the locks to the property without requiring the owner’s consent to ensure their safety
  • Must provide documentation to support their claim and property owners, managers and their employees must not disclose this information (except where permitted) and may be subject to penalties if they do so. EG: Must present or have evidence of a Police Report

CHANGES FROM 1ST OCTOBER 2022

2. ENDING TENANCIES LAW

  • Removal of ‘without grounds’ as a reason to end a tenancy
  • New ‘grounds’ for property owners to end tenancies

           – including the end of a fixed-term agreement

           – need to undertake significant repair or renovation

           – change of use or sale or preparation for sale of the rental property requires vacant possession

  • New grounds for renters to end tenancies, including the property is not in good repair, or does not comply with the Minimum Housing Standards.

3. RENTING WITH PETS

  1. A renter can seek the property owner’s permission to keep a pet, and property owners can only refuse a request on identified reasonable grounds, such as keeping the pet would breach laws or by-laws.
  2. The property owner must respond to a request for a pet in writing within 14 days, or consent is implied.
  3. The property owner’s consent may be subject to reasonable conditions such as the pet has to be kept outside. A rent increase or a pet bond are not reasonable conditions.

Grounds for refusing a pet:

Under the new provisions of the RTRA Act, the permitted grounds to refuse a pet request are limited to the following:

  • keeping the pet would exceed a reasonable number of animals being kept at the property;
  • the property is unsuitable for keeping the pet because of a lack of appropriate fencing, open space or another thing necessary to humanely accommodate the pet;
  • keeping the pet is likely to cause damage to the property or inclusions that could not practicably be repaired for a cost that is less than the amount of the rental bond for the property;
  • keeping the pet would pose an unacceptable risk to the health and safety of a person, including, for example, because the pet is venomous;
  • keeping the pet would contravene a law;
  • keeping the pet would contravene a body corporate by-law or park rule applying to the property;
  • the tenant has not agreed to the reasonable conditions proposed by you for approval to keep the pet;
  • the animal stated in the request is not a pet; or
  • if the property is a moveable dwelling property— that keeping the pet would contravene a condition of a licence applying to the property

Conditions for approval:

The client may approve a pet request subject to conditions. The conditions must:

  • relate only to keeping the pet at the property; and
  • be reasonable having regard to the type of pet and the nature of the property; and
  • be stated in the written approval given to the tenant.

Without limiting what conditions are reasonable having regard to the type of pet and the nature of the property, the RTRA Act prescribes that the following conditions are taken to be reasonable:

  • if the pet is not a type of pet ordinarily kept inside—a condition requiring the pet to be kept outside at the property;
  • if the pet is capable of carrying parasites that could infest the property—a condition requiring the property to be professionally fumigated at the end of the tenancy; and
  • if the pet is allowed inside the property—a condition requiring carpets in the property to be professionally cleaned at the end of the tenancy

4. MINIMUM HOUSING STANDARDS

Minimum Housing Standards will apply to new leases entered into from 1 September 2023 and all tenancies from 1 September 2024. Important points for landlord’s to note:

  1. Strengthened repair and maintenance obligations will commence from 1 October 2022 to support the staggered introduction of Minimum Housing Standards from 1 September 2023.
  2. Tenants (residential tenancies) will have 7 days to complete and return the entry condition report.
  3. Tenants and property managers can authorise emergency repairs up to the equivalent of 4 weeks rent.

Minimum Housing Standards Requirements:

  • The premises to be weatherproof and structurally sound
  • Fixtures and fittings 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).

From October 2022 Emergency repairs will also include works needed for the property or inclusions to comply with minimum housing standards. It is advisable for landlords to either state nominated repairers for all emergency works or give their managing agency the 4 weeks rental approval to take care of the repairs on their behalf.

REPAIR ORDERS

In addition, from October 2022 Tenants can apply to QCAT for a repair order if the property or its inclusions are in need of repair. For routine repairs if they have advised the property manager or landlord of the need for repairs and the repair has not been carried out in a reasonable time frame.

If a repair order is granted by QCAT the repair order remains present with the property not a particular tenancy. From October 2022 landlords must disclose outstanding repair orders on a General Tenancy Agreement.

If you would like more information about the new rental reforms, please feel free to reach out to one of experienced property managers or you can Download our New Legislation Guide for Landlord’s.

Bella