Part 3 Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal

3.1 What is QCAT?

The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) is an independent tribunal that can hear a range of minor civil matters, including residential tenancy disputes. The tribunal aims to provide an accessible, inexpensive process for parties seeking a final decision to resolve a tenancy dispute.

QCAT matters are usually heard in the local Magistrates Court hearing rooms closest to the rental premises, or can be heard at the QCAT central registry in Queen St Brisbane.

In QCAT parties represent themselves but they can take a support person or advocate to the hearing with them. Parties can also apply to attend by telephone, or seek permission to have someone represent them, if they are unable to attend the hearing in person.

The QCAT website at www.qcat.qld.gov.au provides information about the QCAT hearing process for residential tenancy matters, and includes links to relevant forms including the Form 2- Application for a Minor Civil Dispute – Residential Tenancy Dispute.

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3.2 The QCAT Application

To apply to QCAT for a tenancy hearing the Applicant needs to complete a QCAT Form 2 – Application for Minor Civil Dispute – Residential Tenancy Dispute, attach supporting documents, copy their application and then lodge the required numbers of copies with QCAT.

QCAT charge a filing fee to apply for a residential tenancy hearing. 

If the Applicant is in financial hardship, or is on a low income, QCAT can waive the fee. The Applicant will need to fill in a QCAT form 49 Application for Waiver of Fees due to Financial Hardship and attach a copy of their health care card or pension card as evidence of their financial hardship.

When QCAT receives an application they will send all parties a Notice of Hearing. This notice will state the date, time and location of the hearing. If the person is named as a ‘Respondent’, they will also receive a copy of the application that has been lodged against them.

If parties receive notice of a QCAT hearing it is important to attend the hearing to present evidence and let QCAT know what decision they think QCAT should make.

When applying to QCAT for a residential tenancy hearing remember to:

  • read the instructions carefully
  • answer all relevant questions and provide as much information as possible
  • include the contact details of all parties
  • provide any supporting documents in their original format or, if a statement is attached in Affidavit format this must be witnessed by a Justice of the Peace, Commissioner of Declarations or a solicitor
  • sign and date the form
  • lodge the required number of copies of the application with QCAT (one for QCAT and one for each Applicant and each Respondent named in the application)
  • Pay the required filing fee or complete a QCAT Form 49 Application of wavier of fees by reason of financial hardship
  • If an interpreter is required make a written request to QCAT and note this on the QCAT application
  • If the applicant wants to attend the hearing by telephone fill in an Application for Attendance at Hearing, Compulsory Conference or Mediation by Remote Conferencing


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3.3 Preparing for the QCAT hearing

The aim of the hearing is to ask QCAT to make a final decision about the tenancy dispute. Therefore it is strongly recommended that the tenant attends the hearing.

The parties are required to bring any evidence they intend to rely on to the hearing (or attach to the application if they are the Applicant). Parties should also provide copies of their evidence to the Tribunal and the other parties. Where possible this should happen prior to the hearing.

Documents parties may use to support an application may include:

  • A copy of the tenancy agreement;
  • A copy of the RTA Notice of Unresolved Dispute (NURD);
  • Receipts, quotes and invoices;
  • Copies of Entry and Exit condition reports;
  • Copies of RTA notices;
  • Affidavits from witnesses;
  • Queensland Police Service reports ;
  • Copy of any protection order;
  • Email correspondence;
  • Letters regarding the tenancy matter which may include letters from a DV support service;
  • Photographs; and
  • Bank statements as evidence of financial hardship.


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3.4 Attending a hearing by telephone

When a matter is listed for a hearing, the parties are expected to attend the tribunal in person to present their case. If a tenant cannot attend in person, before the hearing date they may apply for permission to attend by telephone by completing the application for attendance at hearing by remote conferencing or complete the online application to attend a proceeding by telephone.


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3.5 Adjournments

If QCAT list a hearing at a time that a party is unable to attend, they can request to adjourn (postpone) the hearing. However, they will need to have a good reason for not being able to attend (such as being in hospital) otherwise the tribunal may continue with the hearing and make a decision without them.

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3.6 Interpreter service

If the tenant requires an interpreter, QCAT can source one and the service is generally free, however in some jurisdictions QCAT can decide whether or not payment is needed for the cost of the interpreter. This can be confirmed with the tribunal.

If a tenant sources their own interpreter, ensure the interpreter is accredited under the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters and inform QCAT.

Requests for interpreters should be made as soon as possible before the hearing date. This interpreter request can also be noted on the QCAT Form 2 Application for minor civil dispute-residential tenancy dispute.

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3.7 Assistance for people with a hearing impairment

QCAT hearing rooms are equipped with hearing loops to assist those with a hearing aid. If this service is required or the tenant has a hearing impairment but do not have a hearing aid, please advise the QCAT registry via QCATOperationsSupport@justice.qld.gov.au.

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3.8 Wheelchair access

All floors within the tribunal are wheelchair accessible and a wheelchair is available if required.  Information about disability parking is available on QCAT’s contact information page.

 

 
 
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3.9 Security at the hearing

If a tenant requires additional security and safety while attending a hearing, it is best to put this request in writing to QCAT prior to the hearing date.

 

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3.10 Closed Hearing

QCAT hearings are generally open to the public, however, a closed hearing must occur if:

If an application is made to the tribunal in circumstances involving domestic violence, the applicant may request a closed hearing by completing and submitting a QCAT Form 40 – Application for miscellaneous matters.

 

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3.11 What happens at the hearing?

At the commencement of the hearing, the QCAT members or adjudicators responsible for deciding the case, will make introductions and ask all parties to introduce themselves. Information on protocols for hearings is provided in Practice Direction 2014/1 – Hearing Protocols.

Matters may be heard by an adjudicator or a panel of JP’s depending on the complexity of the matter.

The parties and witnesses may be required to swear an oath or make an affirmation at the beginning of proceedings, promising to tell the whole truth in the evidence given to the tribunal in the statements to follow. Each party to the matter may:

  • ask questions;
  • be asked questions by the members or adjudicators;
  • the tribunal may allow the parties to ask each other questions or to challenge evidence given, however generally the parties are to address the adjudicator;
  • it is preferable for witnesses to also attend the hearing, however, a sworn affidavit providing evidence in this way will be sufficient testimony if there is a sound reason as to why witnesses are unable to attend the hearing.


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3.12 After the hearing

A decision may be provided at the end of the hearing however if the tribunal needs more time to consider the matter or to gather more information the tribunal may reserve its decision and all parties will receive QCAT’s decision at a later date.

 

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3.13 Re-openings

Reopening a matter will only be considered in special circumstances. QCAT will only consider reopening a matter if a party did not appear at the final hearing and has a reasonable excuse for not attending, or a party would suffer substantial injustice if the matter was not reopened because significant new evidence has emerged that was not previously available.

An application to reopen proceedings must be lodged within 28 days from the date the tenant was provided with notice of the QCAT decision.

To apply to reopen a matter, the applicant will need to complete and lodge a QCAT Form 43 – Application for reopening, correction, renewal or amendment.   This form may incur a filing fee.

If applying for a Reopening the applicant needs to attach evidence regarding why they were unable to attend the hearing. It is also useful to mention any evidence that, if the matter is re-heard, may change the original decision that was made by the tribunal.

If parties are applying for a Reopening they may also want to apply for a Stay or Interim order to stop the original decision being enforced prior to the matter being reheard in QCAT.

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3.14 Appeals

There are limited grounds to appeal a QCAT decision. Parties must first apply to QCAT to seek permission to appeal the decision and set out their reason for an appeal. Strict time limits apply to appeal a decision.

Appeals are determined by QCAT’s Internal Appeal Tribunal. Parties must complete a QCAT Form 39 – Application for Leave to Appeal or Appeal. to apply to QCAT to seek leave (permission) to appeal a decision.

You can only appeal QCAT residential tenancy decisions if there has been an error in:

  • a question of law
  • a question of fact, or
  • a question of mixed law and fact.

When the Internal Appeal Tribunal hears an appeal a new hearing may take place, which will consider the original information and evidence presented. New information and evidence may only be presented if the Internal Appeal Tribunal grants permission.