What You Need to Know About Queensland’s Rental Reforms – REIQ
Last year the Queensland Parliament passed the Housing Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 and most people welcome the improvement from the initial reforms proposed by the government.
Although an improvement on the reforms that were first proposed, the Housing Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 swings the pendulum more favorably for tenants while diminishing landowners’ contractual rights.
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.
These protections will enable a tenant who is enduring domestic and family violence to sidestep the usual requirements and financial obligations related to terminating a tenancy.
Survivors of domestic and family violence will be able to terminate a tenancy agreement with just seven days’ notice and those seven days of rent is all they will be liable for.
Provision 2: Pets
Many tenants want pets and equally, many property managers and landlords would rather not deal with the potential issues pets can cause. The new legislation eliminates a property owner’s right to have a ‘no pets’ policy.
In any case, tenants will still need to ask for approval for the pet. The landlord will then, at that point, have the right to say no, yet only based on certain prescribed grounds. To relieve the tension between pet owners and landlords, the government has introduced two key changes.
The first change is that pet damage has been excluded from the definition of fair wear and tear. This implies that landlords will be able to seek compensation for tenants for damage that is brought about by their pets.
The second change is that landlords can now impose conditions in the approval of a pet. Violating these conditions could potentially be a breach of the general tenancy agreement.
Provision 3: New Grounds for Termination
This provision safeguards the landlord’s right to end a tenancy after the culmination of a fixed term agreement. While the landlord no longer has the ability to terminate a tenancy without grounds, new grounds for termination have been laid out in this provision.
One of the new grounds is if 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 notice to leave.
Other new grounds for termination include selling or development of the property, the landlord wanting to move back in, or their family members want to move into the property.
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
Landlords have lost the option to end a periodic tenancy by providing notice. Tenants however will retain this right. Except if the landlord can establish limited prescribed grounds (such as the sale of the property) they will never be able to terminate a periodic tenancy.
This is retrograde and will almost certainly result in the demise of periodic tenancies in Queensland. This reform will unfavorably affect tenants who are looking for maximum flexibility and would rather not commit to a fixed-term tenancy.
Provision 4: Minimum Housing Standards
Another significant provision sets out some basic standards that need to be met to permit a residential property to be rented in Queensland.
Basic standards that need to be met are:
– The property needs to be waterproof.
– Locks on doors and windows need to work.
– Windows need to have some form of coverage on them.
– Kitchen and laundry facilities need to operate
This is an extension of Section 1 85 of the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act, which states a property needs to be in good working order before it can be inhabited.
These seem to be very reasonable standards and they clarify that it should not be lawful to rent out a property that does not meet these conditions.
When will the provisions commence?
The domestic and family violence provisions commenced on 20th October 2021; however they largely replicate what has previously been in place as part of the COVID-19 provisions.
Provisions 2 and 3 will commence on 1st 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 are commencing from 1st September 2023 and for all tenancies from 1st September 2024
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