Queensland’s Rental Law Reforms have recently progressed with the passing of the Housing Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 in parliament.
As always with reforms there are groups of people that are happy and others that aren’t as pleased. Some are saying these new laws are skewed towards favouring tenants over property owners, others are saying it’s a re-balance that needs to happy.
It can be argued either way. What we’ll do is present you with the facts about what has been changed in the laws, so you can see how these are going to affect you in your real estate journey.
There were four main provisions in the Bill, which we’ve laid out for you below, with the help of information provided by the Department of Communities, Housing and Digital Economy:
Minimum Housing Standards
Anyone renting out a property in Queensland will need to ensure it meets minimum requirements of safety, security and functionality. This is basically 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. It prevents landlords renting out sub-standard homes not fit for habitation.
REIQ CEO Antonia Mercorella says “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.”
Some of the standards include:
– The premises are to be weatherproof and structurally sound.
– Fixtures and fittings to be in good repair and not likely to injure anyone.
– Locks to the windows and doors.
– No vermin, damp or mould present.
– Adequate plumbing and drainage.
– Functioning kitchen and laundry facilities (where supplied).
Domestic and Family Violence
When COVID-19 arrived a number of temporary domestic and family violence protections were put in place. These were designed to help protect victims of domestic violence during the lockdown period. The Bill has ensured the permanency of these changes, which ensure that renters who are experiencing DFV:
– Can leave after giving seven days’ notice and access their bond.
– Aren’t liable for any damage to the home caused by DFV.
– Can change the locks on the property for their own safety, without the owners consent.
– Need to provide documentation to support their claims, which must not be disclosed by the landlord or their property manager.
This new provision makes it very difficult for a homeowner to have a ‘no pets’ policy in their rental. Tenants will still need to ask approval to have pets, but the owner only has the rights to say no based on certain grounds, such as the pet will be breaking laws or by-laws.
If the owner doesn’t reply to the tenants request for a pet within 14 days, then its assumed their consent is given. Rent increases or pet bonds aren’t allowed to be applied.
However, any damage caused by the pets won’t fall under wear and tear. So owners will be able to seek compensation for them. The owner is also able to apply certain conditions onto the pet approval, violation of which breaks the tenancy agreement.
Ending Tenancies Fairly
With this provision a homeowner will still have the right to end a tenancy when a fixed-term agreement ends. They need to have grounds to do this, which could include the intended sale of the home, or they want to move back into the property or it requires development or renovation.
Tenants can continue to end an agreement without grounds, so long as they give an appropriate notice period. If tenants are in serious breach of the rental conditions, property owners will need to seek an order from QCAT (Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal) to terminate the agreement.
While the DFV provisions come into effect immediately, the minimum housing standards only start in September 2023, and the rest will take six to 12 months.
If you have any questions, please get in touch with The Henry Wong Team®. Henry would love to chat about how these provisions could affect your life.