What do the new Queensland renting laws mean for you?

October 14, 2021

New tenancy laws finally passed in Queensland parliament, concluding stage one. In brief, here is what you can expect:

Changes include:

  • the reasons tenancies can be ended,
  • the introduction of minimum housing standards 
  • renting with pets; and
  • increased protections for people experiencing domestic and family violence.

1: Reasons tenancies can be ended (commencement date not yet known)

The new laws allow property owners to only end tenancy agreements for approved reasons. Such as –

  • Owner or their relative need to occupy the rental property (periodic agreement only)
  • Significant repair or renovation to be completed at the rental property (periodic agreement only)
  • Sale or preparation for sale of the rental property requires vacant possession (periodic agreement only)
  • Serious or significant breach caused by the actions of a tenant, occupant or guest
  • Person is occupying without consent
  • End of a fixed term agreement
  • Planned property redevelopment or demolition (periodic agreement only)
  • Repeated tenant breach of by-laws or park rules
  • Change of use (e.g. move to short-stay accommodation) (periodic agreement only)
  • Queensland Government owned rental accommodation is required for a public or statutory purpose (periodic agreement only)
  • For purpose-built off campus student accommodation: the tenant is no longer entitled to reside in the student accommodation

The new laws include the following reasons that tenants can end a tenancy –

  • Rental property is not in good repair, is unfit for human habitation or does not comply with Minimum Housing Standards
  • The owner has not complied with a QCAT repair order to undertake repair or maintenance of the rental property
  • The owner provided false or misleading information about the tenancy agreement or rental property
  • A co-tenant has died
  • For purpose-built off campus student accommodation: the tenant is no longer entitled to reside in the student accommodation

2: Minimum housing standards (they don’t start until September 2023, and fully commence by September 2024.)

The Minimum Housing Standards for rental accommodation focuses on safety, security and reasonable functionality and enhance repairs and maintenance provisions.
New changes in the legislation are –

  • Accessible external windows and doors must have functioning latches to prevent ingress.
  • Free of infestation such as mould and mildew
  • Window coverings, treatments or modesty feature are provided in rooms where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. Example, bathroom, toilet, bedroom.

3: Renting with pets (commencement date not yet known)

New changes to renting with pets will allow a property owner to refuse a pet on prescribed reasonable grounds that cannot be addressed by prescribed reasonable conditions. This is intended to require owners to consider the specific circumstances or the specific attributes of a pet request and deter blanket “no pets” rules. ‘Pets’ can include a wide range of animals and are not restricted to dogs and cats. An example can be provided in legislation to indicate that a blanket ‘no pets’ is not reasonable, whereas an unfenced property may be able to indicate ‘no dogs’.

Grounds to refuse a pet will include –

  • the rental property is unsuitable for the proposed pet
  • the pet poses an unacceptable risk to health and safety
  • keeping the pet would breach laws, by-laws or park rules

Keeping a pet maybe subject to conditions. They must be reasonable in regard to the type of pet and nature of premises. 

  • Conditions must be included in the lessor’s written approval.
  • Examples of what are reasonable conditions: (a) if the pet is not a type of pet ordinarily kept inside—a condition requiring the pet to be kept outside at the premises; (b) if the pet is capable of carrying parasites that could infest the premises—a condition requiring the premises to be professionally fumigated at the end of the tenancy; (c) if the pet is allowed inside the premises—a condition requiring carpets in the premises to be professionally cleaned at the end of the tenancy.
  • The conditions are void if they increase the rent or bond, require a form of security.

Tenants will be liable for any damage caused by the pet (as they are now).

4: Domestic and family violence (DFV) protections (commencement date not yet know)

The new laws will see that the protections included in the COVID-19 Emergency Response 2020  made permanent. These include –

  • allow renters experiencing DFV to end their interest in a residential tenancy quickly with seven days notice supported by evidence
  • limit these renters’ liability for end of lease costs to the equivalent of one weeks rent and facilitate quick access to a refund of any contribution they made to the rental bond
  • allow these renters to change the locks to their rental property, if the tenant believes it is necessary to protect them or an occupant from domestic violence, without the property owner or manager’s consent
  • require owners and their agents to comply with confidentiality obligations for any information disclosed to them by a renter who leaves a tenancy due to experiencing DFV
  • requiring owners to notify any remaining co-tenants that the tenancy agreement continues for them on the same terms
  • allowing the owner to request remaining co-tenants top up the rental bond to the amount required under the tenancy agreement if required.

MEDIA RELEASE: Government passes new renting laws.

October 14, 2021

MEDIA RELEASE

Today, the Palaszczuk Government passed its new tenancy legislation with some amendments, calling it ‘striking the right balance between renters and property owners’. Advocates from the community sector have welcomed the long overdue rental reform acknowledging some amendments will improve Queensland renters’ rights but expressing concern that protections do not go far enough.

Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS) CEO Aimee McVeigh said that some of the government’s reforms are an improvement for Queensland’s 1.8 million renters, but that more must be done urgently.

“The next stage of rental reforms must happen immediately in light of Queensland’s housing crisis. Renters are competing in unbelievably tight rental markets with vacancy rates below 1 per cent throughout Queensland and, even when they can find a place, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be able to stay in their home beyond six or twelve months.

“The reality is that the housing market is failing millions of Queenslanders, and government intervention is needed. Tenants need housing security and minimum standards like lighting, ventilation and energy efficiency and these protections must be provided by the law,” said Ms McVeigh.

A key element needed in the government’s next round of rental reforms is to permit tenants to make minor modifications to their homes.

CEO of Queenslanders with Disability Network (QDN), Paige Armstrong, said for many of their members, private rental is made all the more difficult due to the need for minor modifications to make a property accessible.

“It is disappointing to see that minor modifications have not been included in this round of rental reforms. There are over 900,000 people with disability living in Queensland, and a significant number rent in the private sector.

“It is really important for people with disability and many other people in our community to be able to carry out minor modifications. It helps people feel safe, to maintain their independence and carry out basic day to day tasks.

“Renters with disability have been waiting years for these reforms and we need to see change,” said Ms Armstrong.

Penny Carr, CEO of Tenants Queensland, the state’s tenant advisory specialists, welcomed the finalisation of this first stage of the reforms which she said is long overdue and a welcome relief.

“Renters will find it somewhat easier to keep a pet and to have repairs attended to but they will wait until 2024 for minimum standards and will still be subjected to arbitrary evictions. These laws are not ones for a modern Queensland as they don’t offer strong enough protections from unfair evictions,” said Ms Carr.

Ms Carr acknowledged the government’s commitment to rental reforms and stated the changes included a number of positive changes for Queensland renters but overall are still disappointing, falling well short of modernising the laws.

“Our focus will now be to ensure all Queensland renters understand the new laws, how to exercise their rights and meet obligations, without fear of eviction.

“We will be watching the impact of these reforms very closely to advise the government of any negative impacts on Queensland renters, then working hard to achieve greater outcomes in stage two,” said Ms Carr.

The Housing Minister has committed to stage 2 of rental reform to begin in the first half of 2022 with minor modifications to be the top priority.

ENDS.

Media contact:

QCOSS media – 0481 854 101
QDN media – 1300 363 783
Tenants Queensland, Penny Carr – 0418 747 921

Election 2020 Scorecard – how the parties compare

October 23, 2020

In the leadup to the Queensland State election, we have asked each of the major parties about their policies in relation to changing and improving our State’s tenancy laws.

We put forward 10 questions to the parties. To date only the Greens, the LNP and the ALP have responded, with a promise to respond having been received from Katter’s Australian Party. We will be publishing their responses as we receive them, and updating the scorecard below.

LegendSupportive Response

Non-supportive Response
Neutral Response or Status Quo
No Response Received

Platform PrioritiesGreensALPKAPLNPOne NationUnited Australia
General Policy Supportive of Renters Rights
Commitment to support and improve renters rights during next Qld Parliament (2020-24)
Support for Independent Tenancy advisory Services in Qld
End No Grounds Evictions
Make it easier for Renters to keep pets
Make it easier for renters to get their bonds back
Limit rent increases
Minimum standards for rental properties
Read what the Greens said hereRead what the ALP said hereCommitted to respond
Awaiting response
Read what the LNP said hereNo responseNo response

The Animal Welfare League QLD joins Make Renting Fair

February 26, 2020

 

The Animal Welfare League Queensland (AWLQ) has joined forces with Make Renting Fair QLD, and formally asked the Hon Mick de Brenni to amend Queensland’s tenancy laws.

“Many people rely on their pets for companionship. It should be unlawful to discriminate against someone because they have a pet as part of their family,” says the AWLQ’s Strategic Director Dr Joy Verrinder.  “We know from the thousands of people who adopt animals from our four busy Rehoming Centres in South East Queensland each year, that animals are very important in people’s lives. We also share their heartbreak and devastation when they are surrendering a much-loved dog or cat because a body corporate or landlord has told them they cannot keep their pet.”

A quarter of animals surrendered to AWLQ each year are due to accommodation issues including people not being able to find pet-friendly accommodation due to agents or landlords not allowing pets, moving and homelessness.

“We are often contacted by people seeking help about what to do when they are refused permission to keep their pet,” Dr Verrinder continues. “Most people feel powerless in this situation. If they complain or question the decision, they may lose their accommodation. If they move, a massive effort is required to find a suitable place to live with their animal.

“To limit the ability for people to keep animals who are often their best friends is outrageous. Just as people are entitled to rent with their partner, child, sister or brother, pet owners should be entitled to rent with their pets. There will be varying levels of responsibility in caring for properties amongst all people regardless of whether or not they own a pet. There are also already safeguards in place for landlords through the existing rental bond system, as well as opportunities to insure with companies who cover pet damage.”

AWLQ and Make Renting Fair in Queensland support legislation which allows tenants to keep pets. A tenant would still be required to seek consent from a property owner. The property owner can only refuse with approval from the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal based on a set of prescribed reasons. Similar legislation has already been passed in Victoria, the ACT as well as NT.

Currently, a landlord can refuse pets in their rental properties without providing any reasonable grounds.

The Residential Tenancies Authority reports only about 10% of Queensland’s rental properties allow pets. Yet, 84% of families either have or would like to have a pet.


Take action!

Support our petition and ask the Queensland Government to introduce legislation to make it easier for renters to keep their pets.

Cate sees the reforms as a win-win for landlords and tenants

December 20, 2019

“After reading the State government’s proposed reforms, I don’t see any changes that are outside the parameters of basic human respect and dignity,” says Cate, a South-East Queensland resident and landlord with two rental properties. In her opinion, the reforms will provide a better opportunity for the two-way relationship between a tenant and landlord to be fulfilled.

“If landlords want to earn money off a rental property, they have a responsibility to respect the people living in those homes,” she explains. “At the same time, tenants have a responsibility to look after the house and pay their rent on time. It’s a two-way street, and we need to look after each other.  When I sign a contract with a tenant, I expect that income because it pays my bills. They sign the contract and expect a place to call home where they can enrol their kids in school, access health care and go to work.”

Cate’s ability to understand the supportive relationship between tenants and lessors means she endorses the overall package.

When asked her opinion on proposed reforms to end without ground evictions, Cate says, ‘’If either of us have to end this agreement early, there has to be a reason. Making those reasons really specific is very important. Anything outside of the proposed reasons would probably be discriminatory and should not be allowed.”

Cate also understands that minimum housing standards are essential for both tenants and lessors, and they aren’t about bringing a house up to five-star standards. “No one is asking landlords to install ducted air-conditioning. It’s just about making sure a house is waterproof, that the kitchens and bathrooms work, and there isn’t a vermin problem,” she explains.

“If you own a rental property and you aren’t able to fulfil your duty to provide a safe and secure home, you shouldn’t have the property on the rental market,” Cate says. “And if it’s going to be a financial burden to bring your property up to standard for tenants, landlords need to make adjustments to their financial arrangements so the house can be made safe by them, or a new owner”

“The main point to remember is that to an extent, fair and ethical tenancies already happen. We don’t need to sensationalise the changes or fear the worst,” says Cate. “The changes safeguard both landlords and tenants and set fair and reasonable standards as the norm, not the exception.”

Your rental reform ideas: “Tenants need to have rights…”

October 2, 2019

We asked and you answered! Here’s one of the many rental reform ideas that have been contributed by Queenslanders…

“Tenants need to have rights, which as far as I’m concerned, we don’t have. The laws are made to protect relators and landlords instead.

“I have been to the Tribunal before, and the landlord had proper representation, but of course, I had to represent myself. I lost, regardless of all the illegal building work we had to put with. This is one of many issues facing tenants in Queensland.” Julie

Take action!

Do you agree with Julie? We want to hear about the changes you most want to see. Email [email protected] or send us a video on our Facebook or Twitter page.

To support our initiative to change Queensland laws and make renting fair, sign up for our campaign updates and share this post with your friends.

International Tenants Day – photo and art competition

September 24, 2019

Tenants Queensland invites all tenants across Queensland to participate in our photo competition, capturing what ‘A sense of home’ means to you. Tell us in a caption “A sense of home is…”

You have until October 4 to send your photos and/or artworks –
1 – Email or mail your photo or photo of artwork, name, contact details and where you are renting in QLD to [email protected] or by post to Tenants Queensland 1/87 Wickham Terrace, Spring Hill 4000
2 – Post your photo or photo of your artwork on the Tenants Queensland Facebook page
https://www.facebook.com/tenantsqld/

CONDITIONS OF ENTRY
To be eligible for this competition, please send us your photo, name and contact details and tell us where you are renting in QLD. By sending your photo to Tenants Queensland, you are consenting to the photo, artwork, or photo of artwork being used publicly by Tenants Queensland, including on the Tenants Queensland website and social media. By sending this photo you confirm that you have consent of any person in the photo for their image to be shared in this way and you confirm the artwork sent in as entries for the competition are the entrant’s original artwork.
Any enquiries please contact Cameron at Tenants Queensland – Phone: (07) 3832 9447 – Email: [email protected] Website: tenantsqld.org.au

 

 

Tenants deserve greater respect of their privacy

July 17, 2019

Have you ever missed checking your mailbox for a single day? As a tenant, this benign act could result in your lessor catching you in a compromising position the next day, or having your home accessed without your knowledge. Neither of those scenarios seems fair.

In some circumstances under current Queensland law, a lessor or agent needs to provide a mere 24 hours notice to access your property. Meaning an agent or lessor can put a form in your mailbox or send to your email early on one morning, and then access your property the very next day, exactly 24 hours after serving notice. With or without your knowledge.

We believe tenants deserve greater consideration of their privacy and are asking Queensland politicians to extend this notice period to 48 hours. An extra day has little impact on the property owner or agent, yet it increases the tenants’ likelihood of receiving the notice and has positive roll-on effects for the relationship between the tenant and lessor.

All Australians, no matter their income, employment status, shift patterns or the frequency with which they check their mailbox deserve privacy in the place they call home. 

To make these policy changes, we need the support of Queenslanders. Share our message on social media, sign up to our newsletter and share your own rental stories with us.

If you have personally experienced a breach of privacy related to this 24-hour notice policy, we want to hear about it — email [email protected].

You can also have your say. Send us a 30-second video answering this question: “THE THING I MOST WANT TO CHANGE ABOUT RENTING IN QUEENSLAND IS….”

Your video will be shared on our social and other public media sites. Send it to our Facebook page or via email ([email protected])

‘’Lives turned upside down – NSW renters experiences of no grounds evictions’’

March 19, 2019

Its real! Renters are bearing the brunt of outdated laws more than we think.  Of the 650 or so renters who completed the survey reported on in ”Lives turned upside down”, just under half had direct experience of a no grounds eviction. The result – renters are moving more often and renters are experiencing housing instability.

But even renters who have not experienced a no grounds eviction, the threat of one is enough to create anxiety and fear for tenants, many whom hold back from reporting problems for fear of being evicted.

Read the full report here about the impact on tenants of no grounds evictions.

The experience in Queensland is NO DIFFERENT.  That’s why we need your support to change the law in Queensland.  Please share with your family and friends so they can support us to change this archaic law in Queensland.

Tenancy Law Changes in the ACT

February 26, 2019

Last week the ACT assembly passed a bill to make renting fairer in the ACT.  Changes include:

  • a default position that tenants can have pets and even where a tenant is required to seek consent it can only be refused if ACAT has approved the refusal.
  • Rent increases of up to a prescribed amount, if a landlord wants a higher increase the tenant has to agree, or the landlord has to apply to ACAT.
  • a new process for modifications of a property by a tenant.
  • a new limit imposed on break lease fees to ensure they only cover a landlord’s actual loss.
  • tenants right to vacate by providing 3 weeks notice if they are given a no cause termination notice during a fixed term tenancy.

The changes will take at least 12 months to implement.

Unfortunately other changes including an attempt to end unfair evictions and the creation of minimum standards were not supported.  Despite not winning changes to unfair evictions, landlords will be required to provide a statutory declaration if they are going to evict a tenant because their family will be moving in.

You can find the full story here.