The New Rental Law Reforms

On Wednesday, 20 October 2021 the Housing Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 became law. According to the Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA) website, the new legislation amends the existing legislation.  The amended Act and Regulation will be made available by the Office of the Queensland Parliamentary Counsel in the coming days. It’s important to note not all changes commence immediately.

So, what is changing and when?

  1. Domestic and family violence protections -Commenced 20 October 2021 
  2. Framework for all parties to negotiate renting with pets -Will commence on proclamation on a date yet to be set
  3. Changes to approved reasons to end a tenancy -Will commence on proclamation on a date yet to be set
  4. Minimum housing standards -Due to commence 2023–24

Below is a quick overview of some of the changes (please check to RTA website for more detailed information).

1.    Domestic and family violence protection

These arrangements are similar to those that were temporarily in place during Covid-19.  They now confirm that tenants/residents vacating a rental premises on grounds of experiencing domestic and family violence: 

  • can vacate immediately but must provide 7 days’ notice and pay rent until the end of the 7 day notice period 
  • must complete a Notice ending tenancy/residency interest (domestic and family violence) (Form 20R20) and provide relevant evidence (such as a Domestic and family violence report
  • are not responsible for costs relating to ending of a tenancy/rooming accommodation agreement or interest, goods left behind in the rental premises or reletting costs 
  • will have break lease fees capped at 1 week’s rent 
  • are not required to repair or compensate the property manager or owner for damage to the premises or inclusions caused by an act of domestic and family violence experienced by a tenant/resident 
  • are still responsible for costs associated with breaching terms of an agreement which are not related to the domestic and family violence (for example, rent arrears or damage to the property by a pet) 
  • can request their bond contribution be refunded by completing a Bond refund for persons experiencing domestic and family violence (Form 4a). Property owners/managers can also request a rental bond refund for a tenant/resident’s bond contribution where a tenant/resident has vacated due to domestic and family violence by completing this form 
  • any remaining tenants/residents can be asked by the property owner/manager to top up the rental bond within one month by issuing remaining tenants/residents with a Continuing interest notice strictly between 7-14 days only after a vacating tenant/resident’s interest in the agreement ends 
  • can change the locks to the property without requiring the property owner/manager’s consent to ensure their safety but must provide copies of keys or access codes to the rental property owner/manager as soon as practicable.

It is critical that property owners/managers maintain the privacy of a tenant/resident who is experiencing domestic and family violence to ensure their safety. Penalties apply if the legislative requirements are not followed.  

2.    Framework for all parties to negotiate renting with pets

Keeping pets and other animals at premises:

  • The tenant may keep a pet or other animal at the premises only with the approval of the lessor.  However, the tenant may keep a working dog at the premises without the lessor’s approval.
  • An authorisation to keep a pet, working dog or other animal at premises is subject to a body corporate by-law, park rule or other law relating to keeping animals at the premises.

Tenant responsibility for pets and other animals:

  • The tenant is responsible for all nuisance caused by a pet or other animal kept at the premises, including, for example, noise caused by the pet or other animal.
  • The tenant is responsible for repairing any damage to the premises or inclusions caused by the pet or other animal.
  • Damage to the premises or inclusions caused by the pet or other animal is not fair wear and tear.

There is a great deal more to this section than the above, please be sure to check the RTA website and the Amendment Bill 2021 for full details of the upcoming changes.

3.    Changes to approved reasons to end a tenancy

Once implemented, these changes will remove the option to end a tenancy without grounds and instead provide tenants and property owners/managers with a wider range of specific grounds on which to end a tenancy with appropriate notice with prescribed notice periods. New grounds (reasons) for owners/managers to end tenancies will include the end of a fixed-term agreement, to undertake significant repair or renovations, change of use or sale or preparation for sale of the rental property requires vacant possession. 

New grounds for tenants to end tenancies will include the property is not in good repair or does not comply with minimum housing standards.

4.    Minimum housing standards

Minimum housing standards will apply for new tenancy agreements from 1 September 2023 and apply for all tenancies from 1 September 2024. 

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. Supporting information and resources on these future change will be made available closer to implementation.

It looks like there are going to be some very interesting and quite testing times ahead for both investors and tenants as these new changes are implemented.

Remember, if you need any help or advice, we are just a phone call away.

All the best, Simon.

Source:  Qld Government – Residential Tenancies Authority. For more information, please check the RTA’s website – https://www.rta.qld.gov.au/about-us/legislation/rental-law-reform

Only select portions of the new legislation have been detailed above. Ensure you check the RTA website and/or Housing Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 for yourself for a comprehensive and complete guide to the changes.

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