Tenancy Law Changes

Queensland’s tenancy laws are changing. The culmination of a long consultation process has been some significant changes that were passed by the Queensland Government on 20 October 2021. The changes amend the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 and Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Regulation 2009.

What is changing and when?

While the new tenancy legislation has been made law, it’s important to remember that not all changes commence immediately.

Some changes came into effect immediately, however the majority of them will be phased in over a three-year period.

The changes essentially cover: domestic and family violence (DFV); pets; ending tenancies; repair orders; and, minimum standards.

Changes effective from 20 October 2021

The first changes only relate to renters experiencing domestic and family violence.

Domestic and family violence protections 

The new arrangements are similar to those that were in place as temporary measures during the COVID-19 pandemic. They cover processes for quickly ending a tenancy agreement, ensuring costs to end a tenancy by affected renters are fair and bond accessible. The changes also allow an affected renter to ensure a property is safe by changing locks, the renter’s confidentiality is protected and that co-tenants are considered in these changes to agreements.

The details are available in our DV and tenancy fact sheets at https://tenantsqld.org.au/info-for-tenants/domestic-family-violence/

Framework for all parties to negotiate renting with pets  

Changes effective from 1 October 2022

Changes to renting with pets will allow a property owner to refuse a pet only on prescribed reasonable grounds. There are clear rules in relation to renter’s requests for pets:

  • Tenants will be liable for any damage caused by the pet (as they are now).
  • Blanket “no pets” rules will be prohibited
  • Owners will have to consider the specific circumstances or the specific attributes of a pet request
  • Strict timeframes will also apply for property owners/managers to respond to any requests for a pet or the request will be considered approved.
  • ‘Pets’ can include a wide range of animals and are not restricted to dogs and cats.

Grounds to refuse a pet will include –

  • the rental property is unsuitable for the proposed pet
  • the pet poses an unacceptable risk to health and safety eg venomous pets
  • keeping the pet would breach laws, by-laws or park rules
  • request exceeds a reasonable number of animals to be kept
  • animal is not a pet

Keeping a pet may be subject to conditions –

  • Conditions only to relate to keeping a pet on the premises
  • They must be reasonable in regard to the type of pet and nature of premises.
  • Conditions must be included in the lessor’s written approval.
  • They are void if they increase the rent or bond, require a form of security
  • Examples of reasonable conditions
    • If the pet is not a type of pet ordinarily kept inside—a condition requiring the pet to be kept outside at the premises
    • if the pet is capable of carrying parasites that could infest the premises—a condition requiring the premises to be professionally fumigated at the end of the tenancy
    • if the pet is allowed inside the premises—a condition requiring carpets in the premises to be professionally cleaned at the end of the tenancy.

Changes to approved reasons to end a tenancy  

Changes effective from 1 October 2022

The new laws will allow property owners to only end tenancy agreements for approved reasons

  • Serious breach caused by the actions of a tenant, occupant or guest
  • Person is occupying without consent Repeated tenant breach of by-laws or park rules
  • For purpose-built off campus student accommodation: the tenant is no longer entitled to reside in the student accommodation
  • Owner or their relative need to occupy the rental property
  • Significant repair or renovation to be completed at the rental property
  • Sale or preparation for sale of the rental property requires vacant possession
  • Planned property redevelopment or demolition
  • Change of use (e.g., move to short-stay accommodation)
  • Queensland Government owned rental accommodation is required for a public or statutory purpose

In addition, for fixed term agreements only, the agreement can be ended because it is the end of the fixed term agreement. Current ‘without ground notices’ will no longer apply once the new laws are in place.

The new laws also include the following reasons for tenants to end a tenancy

  • Condition of the premises ie the rental property is not in good repair, is unfit for human habitation or does not comply with Minimum Housing Standards
  • The owner has not complied with a QCAT repair order to undertake repair or maintenance of the rental property
  • The owner provided false or misleading information about the tenancy agreement or rental property
  • A co-tenant has died
  • For purpose-built off campus student accommodation: the tenant is no longer entitled to reside in the student accommodation
  • Note – tenants/residents can still issue a without grounds notice of intention to leave but the handover date cannot be before the end of the fixed term agreement

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.

  • The Standards will focus on safety, security and reasonable functionality and enhance repairs and maintenance provisions.

Changes in the legislation will be –

  • Accessible external windows and doors must have functioning latches to prevent ingress.
  • Free of infestation such as mould and mildew
  • Window coverings, treatments or modesty feature are provided in rooms where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. Example, bathroom, toilet, bedroom.

Repair orders

These will commence on proclamation on a date yet to be set.

Change in the legislation will be –

  • Increase to the amount a tenant can spend on emergency repairs from 2 weeks to 4 weeks’ worth of rent
  • Allows an agent to carry out emergency repairs to the premises up to a limit the equivalent of 4 weeks’ rent, then deduct the amount from rent.
  • Allows a tenant or (with consent) their representative to apply to the tribunal for a repair order.  The tribunal can make any order or direction about the repairs, or, if the place is vacant, make an order the premises not be occupied as a tenancy until the repairs are complete. Orders can include the amount of rent to be paid, or compensation for loss of amenity, termination if repairs not undertaken by a certain date etc.  The repair order is enduring until it is complied with It does not end with a tenancy agreement or the tenants moving.