Part 1.1 STARTING a Tenancy

 


Application to rent
1.1.1 Application to rent

When applying for a rental property an applicant may be asked to complete an application form and provide evidence including income, proof of identity, references, and rental history. This information allows the lessor/agent to assess whether the applicant is a suitable tenant. The lessor/agent may ask for personal information including:

  • Personal identification;
  • Financial information;
  • Tenancy history;
  • Previous bond refunds; and
  • Personal references.

When applying for a tenancy, applicants are not legally obliged to provide all of the above information but lessors or agents may not consider an application if the applicant refuses to provide requested information.

It is the lessor/agent who decides which applicant will be offered the tenancy. The lessor/agent is not required to provide a reason for refusing a tenancy application although it is useful for a prospective tenant to seek feedback if their application is unsuccessful.

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1.1.2 Signing the tenancy agreement

When renting a residential property the lessor/agent must provide the approved applicant with a written tenancy agreement to sign. A residential general tenancy agreement must include:

  • the name and address of the tenant and property manager/owner;
  • the start and end date of the agreement (or state that it is periodic);
  • how the tenant should pay rent and how much is to be paid;
  • standard terms (a summary of the Act that sets out the rights and responsibilities of the parties); and
  • any special terms  (these special terms must not contradict the Act and should be agreed in advance, e.g. a dog is allowed but must be kept outside, permission for tenant to install fixtures, agreements about pool or garden maintenance, or improvements the lessor has agreed to provide – such as new carpet, air con etc).

The lessor/agent is responsible for preparing the tenancy agreement and providing a copy to the approved applicant. The tenancy agreement must be provided to the approved applicant before they can be asked to pay any monies for the tenancy (other than a key deposit or holding deposit) and before the tenancy agreement can be considered to be legally binding.

On, or before, the day the tenant occupies the property, the approved applicant must:

  • sign the agreement; and
  • within 5 days of receiving the agreement return the signed agreement to the lessor/agent.

It is always advisable for a tenant to keep a copy of the proposed tenancy agreement for their records. Once the tenant returns a signed copy, the lessor/agent must sign the agreement and return a signed copy to the tenant within 14 days.


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Discrimination issues
1.1.3  Discrimination issues

The Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld) states, every person has the ‘right to be treated fairly’.

If an applicant for a rental property believes they have experienced unlawful discrimination on the basis of a personal attribute including gender, race, religion, age and/or parental status, it is advisable to make contact with the Anti-Discrimination Commission of Queensland (ADCQ) on 1300 130 670 to make a complaint or visit www.adcq.qld.gov.au for information.


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Tenancy database
1.1.4  Tenancy database listings

Many real estate agents and lessors use tenancy databases to assess the suitability of prospective tenants. The tenancy application form may require the prospective tenant to provide written consent for referees to be checked, including a check with a tenancy data base operator. The purpose of the tenancy database check is to establish whether or not the applicant has been listed on a tenancy database previously, by a lessor/agent and some tenancy databases operate on a regional basis and others on a national basis. Regardless of the specific area the data base may cover, tenancy databases including TICA in Qld are sometimes referred to as ‘blacklists’. A tenant may be ‘blacklisted’ if an agent or lessor alleges that they defaulted on their tenancy obligations. A listing on a tenancy database may prevent a prospective tenant from being deemed a suitable tenant.

Lessors obligation to disclose search of tenancy data base

If the lessor/agent uses a tenancy database, the agent/lessor is legally obliged within 7 days after accessing the tenancy database, to provide the applicant with written notice as to:

  • the name of the data base used; and
  • the fact there is personal information about the applicant listed in the tenancy date base: s 458B. The reasons for being listed on a tenancy data base may include damage to the rental property resulting from the perpetrator’s acts of domestic violence.

If an applicant discovers there is a listing on a tenancy database, it may be possible to dispute the listing, by making an application to QCAT to determine the matter. For more information please see the Tenants Queensland Tenancy Databases Fact Sheet.
 
 

 

 

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The tenancy agreement
1.1.5  The tenancy agreement

When tenants rent a place the lessor/agent must provide a written agreement that is  clear and in accordance with the requirements of the Act. The RTA website has sample standard tenancy agreements.

There are three types of tenancies covered under the Act including:

  1. General Tenancy Agreement-RTA 18a – is used when renting a house, unit, apartment, townhouse or houseboat;
  2. Moveable Dwelling Agreement-RTA 18b – is used when renting a caravan, moveable dwelling or site; and
  3. Rooming Accommodation Agreement-RTA R18 – when a resident rents a room from a provider and shares common areas such as bathrooms, kitchens with others residents. If the provider also lives in the premises a rooming accommodation agreement only applies if 4 or more rooms are rented out.


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fixed and periodic tenancy agreements
1.1.6 Fixed and periodic tenancy agreements

A residential tenancy agreement may be for either a periodic agreement, or a fixed-term agreement.

A periodic agreement – is a week-to-week ongoing agreement that continues until the tenancy is terminated by either party. When a fixed term agreement expires, if neither party takes steps to terminate the tenancy agreement, the agreement will automatically roll over into a periodic “week-to-week” agreement.

A fixed term agreement – has a start date and end date and can be for any agreed length of time (such as 6 months or 12 months). Tenants should only sign a fixed term agreement if they intend to stay the full term, as it can be costly if tenants need to “break a lease” and terminate their fixed term agreement early.

A residential tenancy agreement is a legally binding contract between the lessor/agent and the tenant/s.


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If there is no written tenancy agreement
1.1.7 If there is no written tenancy agreement

It is an offence under the Act for the lessor/agent to fail to provide a written agreement to a tenant.

However, if the tenancy agreement is only verbal, or the written agreement does not comply with the requirements of the Act, the tenancy laws will still apply to all parties.

If there is doubt about whether a tenancy agreement is covered by the Act, seek tenancy advice or apply to QCAT for a decision.

For more information, see the following Tenants Queensland fact sheets:

Renting in Queensland and Starting a Tenancy.

QUICK TIPS: The start of a tenancy

At the start of a tenancy, the lessor/agent must provide a copy of the signed tenancy agreement, which set out the agreed terms and conditions of the tenancy.The lessor/agent must provide a rent receipt or keep a rent record for all rent payments. Rent receipts must be provided if rent is paid by cash or cheque.

If a tenant pays a rental bond they must be given a receipt and all bond contributors must sign a Bond Lodgment – RTA Form 2. The lessor/agent/provider must lodge this bond money with the RTA within 10 days.

The lessor/agent must fill in an Entry Condition Report- RTA Form 1a and give the tenant a copy at the start of the tenancy. After moving in the tenant has 3 days to inspect the premises, add comments to the form, and return a signed copy to the lessor/agent. When moving in it is also useful for tenants to take photos of the property. For more information please view the RTA video on how to complete the Entry Condition Report at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSLAGs4Mo4w .

The lessor or agent must give the tenant a copy of the RTA information booklet Pocket Guide for Tenants – RTA Form 17a. RTA booklets are also available for rooming residents or moveable dwelling tenants.

Other documents that may be required: In rooming accommodation the resident must be given a copy of the House Rules. In a moveable dwelling park the tenant must be given a copy of the Park Rules. In a set of units the tenant must be provided with the copy of the body corporate by laws if they apply.


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Money at the start of a tenancy agreement
1.1.8 Money at the start of a tenancy agreement

A prospective tenant cannot be required to pay any money at start of a tenancy (except for a key and/or holding deposit) until they are given a copy of the proposed tenancy agreement: 

Once parties enter into a tenancy agreement prospective tenants may be asked to pay rent in advance along with a rental bond. Lessors are not permitted to ask a tenant to pay more than 2 weeks rent in advance for a periodic agreement, or one month rent in advance for a fixed term agreement. In general tenancies the maximum bond is equal to 4 weeks rent, however, if the weekly rent is over $700 there is no maximum bond amount.

TQ encourages DFV service providers to develop formal connections/relationships with their local Rent Connect service and local Housing Service Centres as housing staff can assist tenants to apply for a bond loan or rental grant as described above. 

Assistance with bond and rent payments:

The Department of Housing and Public Works provides bond loan and rental grant services to assist low income tenants meet the costs of starting a new tenancy.

Bond Loans:
A Bond Loan is an interest-free loan to cover the rental bond when moving into private rental accommodation. The loan is up to a maximum of 4 weeks rent, and must be repaid. Bond Loans are available to eligible people only.

Rental grants:
The Department of Housing and Public Works provides Rental Grants to help people experiencing a housing crisis who are moving into private rental housing. A Rental Grant is a once-only grant of two weeks rent. It does not have to be repaid. The Rental Grant is not intended to be used for two weeks rent in advance as it can not be paid until the tenancy is established.

Eligibility criteria:

Eligibility guidelines apply and an application for a bond loan or rental grant must be approved prior to a tenant signing a tenancy agreement, or staring a new tenancy. Applications can be submitted online or at a local Housing Service CentreRent Connect workers at the local Housing Service Centres are able assist women affected by domestic violence apply for a bond loan or rental grant.

Call 13 74 68 for information about bond loans or rental grants or visit http://www.qld.gov.au/housing.


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Standard of the rental property and Condition Reports
1.1.9 Standard of the rental property and Condition Reports

Entry Condition Reports

At the start of a tenancy the lessor/agent must ensure the premises are clean, in good repair and fit for the tenant to live in. Premises must also comply with all health and safety requirements, such as inclusion of working smoke alarms and electrical safety switches.

When tenants move in the lessor/agent must give the tenants a prepared Entry Condition Report to record any defects in the property and note any areas that are not clean or in good repair. Tenants must return a signed copy of the Entry condition report to the lessor/agent within 3 days of moving in. It is also a good idea to keep a copy of this document as it is may be used in evidence  to show the condition of the rental premises upon entry, if required at a latter date .

Maintenance and repairs:

If the tenant notes any repair or maintenance issues that need attention the tenant can give the lessor/agent a written request to do the repairs. If repairs are not done in a reasonable time tenants can give the lessor/agent a Notice to Remedy Breach – RTA Form 11 giving the lessor/agent 7 days to fix the problem.

For more information see the Tenants Queensland  fact sheet Repairs and Maintenance.

Exit Condition Reports

When tenants move out they must leave the rental property clean, in the same condition as the start of the tenancy, except for reasonable fair wear and tear.

 

At the end of the tenancy tenants must use an Exit Condition ReportRTA Form 14a to record the condition of the premises and must give a completed copy to the lessor/agent when they return the keys. Tenants can also take photos of the property and keep copies of cleaning receipts, as evidence of having fulfilled tenant obligations.

The Entry condition Report, Exit Condition Report, and other evidence, such as photos and cleaning receipts, can assist tenants to dispute unfair bond or compensation claims by the lessor/agent at the end of the tenancy.


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Outgoings and service charges1.1.10 Outgoings and service charges

The tenancy agreement should state whether or not tenants are responsible for service charges during the tenancy.

Tenants can only be held liable for water charges if this is stated in the agreement and the premises are individually metered for water supply. The lessor can recover the full cost of water use if the premises are fully water efficient and this is stated in the agreement. If premises are not water efficient the lessor must pay for a reasonable supply of water and this reasonable amount should be agreed at the start of the tenancy.

When moving in tenants will normally need to get services connected, such as gas, phone or electricity, and will be responsible for these costs. If the account is in the name of the lessor, or if the premises are not individually metered for these services, the agreement must state this. For shared services the agreement must state how the tenant share will be calculated and how the lessor will recover payment from the tenant.

The lessor/agent must not require a prospective tenant to agree to buy goods or services from the lessor, agent or a third party, as a condition of being accepted for the tenancy.


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Sub-letting
1.1.11 Sub-letting

When a tenant named on an agreement gives another person (a ‘sub-tenant’) the right to rent part, or all of the property, the tenant becomes the ‘head-tenant’ in relation to the sub-tenant.

A ‘head-tenant’ has the same responsibilities as a lessor and must provide the sub-tenant with a written tenancy agreement, provide receipts or keep a record of rent payments, and must lodge any bond with the RTA.

Any agreement between a head-tenant and sub-tenant should be in writing. It is also a good idea to include any arrangements for sharing bills (e.g. gas, electricity or internet).

Tenants must obtain written consent from the lessor/agent before they can sub-let the rental property. Approval for additional occupants or sub-tenants can be noted in the special terms of the tenancy agreement.