Breaking Down the QLD Rental Law Reform

Change is difficult for all of us, especially when you are already busy. Unfortunately, it is inevitable, and we can either stick our heads in the sand and pretend it’s not happening or we can embrace the change and be proactive and on the front foot when it comes to dealing with it and implementing it into our business. Changes to legislation can cause us to panic and escalate our already fraught stress levels, but facing it sooner, rather than later will make it all that much easier to deal with in the long run. So let’s start now and take a dive into the new Queensland renting laws.

It is important to note that the reforms became law on the 20th of October 2021, but not all changes commence immediately. So, let’s take some time right now and break down the important information you need to know about the Rental Reform Laws.


What is Happening?

These reforms will make up changes to the current Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 and will make up a new act called The Housing Legislation Amendment Act 2021 (HLA Act). They are currently in stage 1 of the reforms.

The amendments are designed to deliver rental law reforms 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.

 The aim is to provide:

  • more certainty about their tenancy arrangements by encouraging greater transparency and accountability about intentions and decision making

  • confidence their rental property is safe, secure and functional by prescribing Minimum Housing Standards

  • 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

  • frameworks to support negotiations about renting with pets and encourage more pet-friendly rental accommodation in Queensland.


What Happens Next?

The Government has opted for a staggered approach to the commencement of the new measures. So there is no need to panic just yet. This will provide time for renters, property owners and property managers to understand the new rights and obligations, and to prepare for them to come into effect.

A longer transition period for the prescribed minimum housing standards will support rental property owners to plan and budget for any work required for their rental property to comply with the new legislation.


What is Changing?

There are four sections of the act that will be undergoing reforms.

1. DOMESTIC AND FAMILY VIOLENCE PROTECTIONS

This is the one reform that commenced immediately from the 20th of October 2021

The changes to this legislation include:

  • can leave immediately (after giving 7 days’ notice) and access any bond contribution they made

  • will have break lease fees capped at 1 week’s rent

  • are not liable for property damage caused by DFV

  • 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.

2. ENDING TENANCIES FAIRLY

This reform has not yet commenced but the changes under the ending tenancies fairly reforms will include:

  • 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 the 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.

Renters can continue to end an agreement ‘without grounds’ and both renters and property owners must provide appropriate notice for the ground (reason) they are using to end the agreement.

Property owners will be able to seek an order from the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) to terminate the tenancy for a significant or serious breach of the lease by a tenant.

Renters can apply to QCAT for an order to set a notice to leave aside if they believe it has been issued in retaliation for them enforcing their rights.

3. RENTING WITH PETS

Again, this reform has not commenced as yet, and no date has been set. Changes making it easier for renters to have a pet include:

  • 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

  • the property owner must respond to a request for a pet in writing within 14 days, or consent is implied

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.

4. MINIMUM HOUSING STANDARDS

This reform will apply to new leases entered from 1 September 2023 and all tenancies from 1 September 2024. Under these reforms, renters can have confidence their rental property is safe, secure, and functional through prescribed minimum housing standards which require:

  • 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).

In addition, the tenant (residential tenancies) will have 7 days to complete and return the entry condition report and tenants and property managers can authorise emergency repairs for the equivalent of 4 weeks rent.

By prescribing minimum housing standards, clarifying repair and maintenance obligations and introducing compliance mechanisms to strengthen the ability to enforce these standards, the Queensland Government aims to ensure all Queensland rental properties are safe, secure and functional. 


Why the Changes?

In September 2018 the QLD Government launched an ‘Open Doors to Rental Reforms Consultation’. 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 in 2019, by the release of the Better Renting Future Reform Roadmap’, which 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 across 5 priority renting issues:

  • ending leases fairly

  • minimum housing standards

  • domestic and family violence protections

  • renting with pets

  • minor modifications.

What the Government heard through consultation is that all parties want greater fairness and better balancing of renter and property owner rights. Most renters, property owners and managers want greater transparency around ending a lease and support changes that assist renters experiencing Domestic and Family Violence (DFV). Renters and property owners agreed they want a better relationship and support to resolve tenancy issues that may arise without needing to access dispute resolution or decision-making services.


What you Need to do Next

Start the education process with your team, landlords and tenants immediately. Update them in personalised emails or phone calls and through your monthly newsletters. Break down each part of the changes so that the specifics of each reform are detailed and explained. For example, the Renting with Pets, doesn’t mean all tenants can now have pets, there are still certain guidelines and criteria that need to be met when it comes to having a pet. Keep educating them as new updates and information comes to light. Start the process of updating your systems, procedures, and workflows. 

Top Tips to deal with the new laws immediately:

  • Include a Domestic Violence section as part of your sign-up documentation

  • Prepare a separate letter, email or information sheet to be able to send to victims of domestic violence should they come to you this should outline the steps they need to take with your agency ie: provide evidence of the DVO and a breakdown of how they vacate. Keep in mind the victim’s safety and be compassionate and caring in all your written and verbal communication

  • Send a letter/email to your landlords outlining the new reforms and what they will need to prepare themselves for in the unlikely event of Domestic and Family Violence in their rental

  • Encourage landlords to look at their Landlord’s insurance coverage

  • Have landlords with run-down properties preparing to put money aside to comply with the Minimum Housing Standards Reforms

  • Start preparing quote requests so that you can stagger maintenance and repairs


What you Need to Know in Brief:

The Housing Legislation Amendment Act 2021 (HLA Act) amends the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008.

  • Staggered approach to reform, currently in Stage 1 of Queensland’s rental law reform.

  • Four sections of the current legislation are being reformed – Domestic Violence, Ending a Tenancy, Renting with Pets, Minimum Housing Standards.

  • The Domestic and Family Violence reforms commenced on the 20th of October 2021.

  • The remaining reforms will be implemented in phases over a three-year period to ensure the sector has sufficient time to prepare

  • The Minimum Housing Standards reforms will commence 2023/2024.

  • For more information, you can go to:

 QLD Government Rental Reforms

 RTA

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