The following is a summary of the government’s recommended changes to tenancy laws as set out in the November 2019 Regulatory Impact Statement and a MRFQ’s views on them. After a delay due to COVID, the government has now tabled their proposals in the Housing Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 (the Bill). The Bill significantly waters down each recommendation in the RIS.

The proposals include the removal of without ground termination notice issued by lessors.

The following new grounds are added for Lessors/Agents to end agreements

  • Lessor or their immediate family are moving in
  • Significant repair or renovations are being undertaken
  • Sale of rental property requiring vacant possession (notice can be issued during the fixed term by a new owner but cannot take effect during the fixed term)
  • Serious or significant breach due to actions of a tenant, occupant or guest
  • Person is occupying the rental property without consent

New grounds for tenants to end agreements

  • Rental property is not in good repair, is unfit for human habitation or does not comply with minimum housing standards
  • Lessor has not complied with a QCAT Repair Order to undertake repair or maintenance of the rental property within the specified time
  • Lessor provided false or misleading information about the tenancy agreement or rental property
  • Death of a co-tenant
  • Tenant is escaping domestic and family violence (DFV)

New grounds for the state to end agreements

  • Qld government owned rental accommodation is required for a public or statutory purpose
  • The Department of Housing requires the property to manage public housing as a scarce resource

MRFQ view:

  1. Ending Tenancies Fairly

We strongly support the recommended option and the withdrawal of without ground notices to leave. We support the addition of the following reasonable grounds to end tenancies:

  • when the lessor or their immediate family will move in;
  • the premises will need to be vacant for at least four weeks to undertake significant repair or renovation; and,
  • for renters experiencing domestic or family violence.We do not support any other additional grounds.
    We do not support any reduction of notice periods for termination by lessors.
    We do not support any reduction of notice periods for termination by lessors.

    We believe there should be penalties applied for the misuse of the lawful grounds to end tenancies, and the potential for renters to claim compensation.
  • Sets out minimum standards for weatherproofing & structural soundness; plumbing & drainage; security; standard of repair of fixtures and fittings; control of pests & vermin; ventilation; lighting & privacy; cooking & food prep facilities
  • Extended time for tenants to complete entry condition reports
  • Increased monetary value for the emergency repairs a Tenant can organise and claim back
  • Allows agents to authorise emergency repairs to specified value if a Lessor is uncontactable
  • Contact details for the Lessor & nominated repairer to be provided.
  • New QCAT repair orders which:
    • attach to a property rather than a tenancy
    • can prevent a property from being rented until ordered repairs undertaken
    • will consider exceptional circumstances of lessors.
    • are enforceable by the RTA
  • Provides for representatives to raise issues/seek orders on behalf of tenant

MRFQ view:

  1. Minimum Standards

We strongly support the recommended option, the inclusion of minimum standards for rental properties and the strengthened repair and maintenance proposals outlined in the Regulatory Impact Statement. In particular we support the new repair orders so they will:

  • apply to a premises not a tenancy;
  • stop a rental property being rented out and/or rent capped until a repair order is complied with;
  • allow the Residential Tenancies Authority to enforce the order; and,
  • for advocates to be able to seek repair orders on behalf of renters.
  • Lessor/agent must provide reasonable grounds if refusing a tenant’s request to keep a pet
  • An explanation of reasonable grounds to be developed
  • Lessor/agent can seek a QCAT order to exclude pets/class of pet on reasonable grounds, order may be for a period of time or on-going
  • Allows for the taking of a pet bond OR inclusion of special term requiring carpet cleaning and pest control at the end of the tenancy.
  • ‘Encourages’ disclosure of any pet exclusions to be provided when advertising properties
  • Pet ‘resume’ form to be developed for voluntary use by prospective tenants

MRFQ view:

  1. Renting with Pets

We strongly support the recommended option that would require lessors to have a reasonable ground (prescribed by law) to deny a tenant’s request for a pet when it complies with other laws and by-laws prohibiting the pet/pet type.

In stage two, these reforms should go further to better support renters with pets during the application process.

We do not support a pet bond, because tenants already pay bonds. Any requirement for tenants to undertake carpet cleaning or pest control should only be related to the pet type. For example, flea control should be applicable for dogs and cats, but not goldfish.

DFV- Ending tenancies

  • The tenant can provide 7 days notice of intention to leave
  • The tenant is then not responsible for rent or other liabilities beyond notice time if they have evidence of DFV = Protection order or document from authorised professional (e.g. doctor; social worker; refuge/crisis worker; DFV worker/case manager; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical service worker.
  • The tenant does not have to provide forwarding address
  • Lessor/agent must maintain privacy about the DFV situation
  • Lessor/agent may make an urgent QCAT app to ensure veracity of situation.

IF there are co-tenants:

  • Lessor/agent must inform co-tenants that of the vacating tenant
  • At end of the tenant’s notice period provide the co-tenants w 7 days to decide if they continue the tenancy.

IF the co-tenants do not wish to stay

  • Lessor/agent provides 21 days notice
  • Co-tenants are not liable for end of tenancy costs e.g. rent after the 21 days notice, advertising etc.

IF the co-tenants want to stay

  • The tenancy continues
  • Remaining tenants may have to increase bond if leaving tenant was a bond contributor

DFV– Safety and security

Tenants experiencing DFV can:

  • Change their locks w/t approval of L/A but is responsible for the cost and providing a key w/in 7 days and ensuring compliance w by-laws.
  • Install security measures without approval from L/A but must inform, ensure installation is by qualified tradesperson if required; pay the costs and ensure compliance with by-law
  • Tenant can be asked to restore property at the end of tenancy.

MRFQ view:

  1. Domestic and Family Violence

We strong support the recommended option which allows a tenant or co-tenant experiencing domestic and family violence to end their tenancy more easily when they have evidence from specialist worker. We also support processes to help them get their bond back more quickly and to install safety and security devices.

Two categories of Minor Modifications have been developed:

1) health, safety, accessibility and security;

2) amenity or personalisation

The following applies to both categories of minor modifications

  • A definition of minor modifications will be included distinct from current sections which apply to fixtures.
  • Tenants must have work undertaken by qualified tradesperson when appropriate.
  • Tenants must comply with by-laws etc.
  • Current requirements for agreement between parties about end of tenancy ‘make good’ or leaving the changes apply
  • Any damage caused by the tenant is their responsibility to fix
  • Future consideration will be given to ‘restoration’ bonds.

The following applies to the health, safety, accessibility and security minor modifications

  • Tenants can make minor modifications for health, safety, accessibility, and security reasons, including access to basic telecommunications, must inform L/A but do not need consent.
  • However, lessor/agent may apply for order preventing changes if they have reasonable grounds

The following applies to the amenity or personalisation minor modifications

  • The tenant must provide 7 days notice to lessor/agent
  • Lessor/agent must respond w/in 7 days (if park manager or owner corps involved L/A may seek and extension)
  • Lessor/agent cannot unreasonably withhold consent
  • The tenant must pursue DR and QCAT if there is a dispute.

MRFQ view:

  1. Minor Modifications

We support the recommended option with some variation. Renters should have the ability to undertake health and safety or amenity minor modifications with prior notification to the lessor. A definition of minor modifications should be included in the changes and qualified tradesman used (only) when appropriate. If the lessor opposes the tenant’s proposed minor modifications, the lessor should be required to use the dispute resolution process within a prescribed timeframe.

A government fund should be established for low income renters who require health and safety modifications (e.g. grab rails) if they are required to restore the property on exit.