Queensland’s Rental Reforms: What You Need to Know

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The Housing Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 was last year passed by the Queensland Parliament and the REIQ welcomes the improvement from the initial reforms proposed by the government.

Key updates from 24 February 2022:

  • 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.
  • Provisions 2 and 3 (outlined below) will come into effect on 1 October 2022.
  • Minimum housing standards (Provision 4 – outlined below) for new tenancy arrangements commence from 1 September 2023 and for all tenancies from 1 September 2024.

Although an improvement on the reforms that were initially proposed, REIQ CEO Antonia Mercorella says the Bill swings the pendulum distinctly in favour of tenants and reduces property owners’ contractual rights.

Read on for a breakdown of the four main provisions included in The Bill.

For more information, you can also watch this latest video from REIQ CEO Antonia Mercorella.

Provision 1: Domestic and Family Violence

Domestic and family violence protections were created after the onset of COVID-19 and this bill seeks to make those protections enduring.  

Mercorella says these protections will enable a tenant who is experiencing domestic and family violence to bypass the usual requirements and financial obligations associated with terminating a lease. 

“Victims of domestic and family violence will be able to terminate a tenancy agreement with only seven days’ notice and those seven days of rent is all they will be liable for,” she says.

Provision 2: Pets

Many tenants want pets and equally, many property managers and landlords don’t want to deal with the potential issues pets can cause. The new legislation effectively eliminates a property owner’s right to have a ‘no pets’ policy.

However, Mercorella says tenants will  need to ask approval for the pet. The landlord will then have the right to say no, but only on the basis of certain prescribed grounds. 

To mitigate the tension between pet owners and landlords, the government has introduced two key changes.  

The first is that pet damage has been excluded from the definition of fair wear and tear. This means property owners will be able to seek compensation for damage that’s caused by pets.

The second change is that the owner can now impose conditions in the approval of a pet. Mercorella says violating these conditions could potentially be a breach of the general tenancy agreement. 

Provision 3: New Grounds for Termination

This provision exists to ensure that the property owner still preserves the right to end a tenancy after the culmination of a fixed term agreement. While the lessor no longer has the ability to end a tenancy without grounds, new grounds for termination have been established in this provision.

“One of the new grounds is the fixed term tenancy is reaching the end of its agreed term, so that will now become an actual ground that an owner can rely on when they give a notice to leave,” says Mercorella.  

“Other new grounds include if the owner wants to sell the property or if the owner themselves want to move back in or a family member wants to move back in, or the property is to be developed, there’s a series of new grounds. Having said that, all of those do still require the fixed term tenancy to come to an end before they can be relied on.” 

Changes to periodic tenancies

Mercorella says property owners have lost the right to end a periodic tenancy by providing notice. Tenants will however retain this right.

“Unless owners can establish limited prescribed grounds (such as the sale of the property) they will never be able to terminate a periodic tenancy,” she says.

“This is a retrograde step and will almost certainly result in the demise of periodic tenancies in Queensland. This reform will detrimentally impact tenants who are seeking maximum flexibility and would prefer not to commit to a fixed term tenancy.”

Provision 4: Minimum Housing Standards

Another major provision sets out some basic standards that need to be met to allow a residential property to be rented in Queensland.  

“The property needs to be waterproof. Locks on doors and windows need to work. Windows need to have some form of coverage on them. If there are kitchen and laundry facilities, they need to work,” says Mercorella.  

In her point of view, Mercorella says this is an extension of Section 1 85 of the Residential Tenancies Act, which states a property needs to be in good working order before it can be inhabited. 

“These are all very reasonable standards and I think they clarify that it shouldn’t be lawful to rent out a property that doesn’t meet these conditions,” she says. 

“This is a great one for tenant security and deals with the landlords out there who are leasing properties that aren’t fit for human habitation.” 

When will the provisions come into effect?

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, giving the REIQ and government bodies the opportunity to deliver education programs to the Queensland real estate sector.

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

The RTA has more information here.

REIQ members can access a webinar recording about the new Queensland housing legislation here.

To view the Bill, please go to the Queensland Parliament website. 

REIQ members seeking further information on this topic or others can email the Property Management Support Service at pmsupport@reiq.com.au citing their membership number for a call back. Not a member? Join today.

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