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.