Life after Lockdown: Queensland Rental Rules to be Reinstated

At the height of coronavirus in 2020, the Queensland Government introduced the COVID-19 Emergency Response Regulation 2020 (Qld) – the goal to effect temporary changes to the operation of the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act[1]in order to provide greater residential and financial security to vulnerable tenants in a pandemic-stricken world. However, with society slowly finding its way back to normalcy, the Queensland Government has announced the second stage of reverting Queensland’s rental laws back to their pre-COVID form – the changes coming into force from 1st May 2021.

This article aims to provide a succinct summary and timeline of the recent and upcoming changes to Queensland tenancy law, so that as a tenant or landlord you can have a better understanding of your rights and obligations in a post-COVID-19 tenancy landscape.

As a quick point to note: if a tenancy agreement has not been affected by COVID-19, each of the parties will continue on abiding by the existing tenancy agreement, and provisions under the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008.[2]

Which provisions are being reverted on 1st May 2021?

From 1st May 2021, the following reversions will take effect:[3]

1. Refusal of entry and inspections based on COVID-19 grounds.

From this date, a tenant can no longer refuse a landlord’s inspection of the tenant’s dwelling on the grounds of the tenant needing to ‘socially distance’. Note that this does not exclude the operation of any public health orders (lockdowns and similar directives) – all parties must still comply with these directives as they arise[4].

2. Delaying/Denial of repairs

The Government’s relaxation of landlords’ repair and maintenance obligations has been rescinded. Landlords are now unable to refuse reasonable requests for minor repairs by their tenants.

3. Various updates to Forms relevant to tenancy agreements

Updates to the various different Forms relating to tenancy agreements can be found here.

Which measures remain in force until 30th September 2021?

The effects of May 2021’s legislative reversions do not comprehensively do away with all the relaxed regulations that resulted from COVID-19. Some COVID-19 measures have had their operation extended up until September 30, 2021. Until such time, the provisions remaining in force include:

  1. Simple and timely termination of tenancy agreements on domestic violence or family violence grounds

If you are a tenant experiencing domestic or family violence, the May 2021 changes will not affect your rights to end your lease expediently. You are still able to:[2]

  • Provide your landlord seven days’ notice of your intention to leave – however you must also provide relevant evidence in support of your circumstances (such as a DFV report, protection order or police protection notice);
  • Vacate immediately – although you still incur liability to pay rent for the seven-day notice period; and
  • Formally request refund of your bond contributions from the Residential Tenancies Authority, whilst not being accountable for any other costs incurred.

2. Tenancy database protections against tenants in rent arrears

Until September 30 2021, tenants whose financial situations have suffered as a result of the effects of COVID-19 are still granted protection against their names being listed on a tenancy database for rental arrears.

3. Reletting cost limitations

Tenants who end their fixed-term tenancy agreements early, and who meet the eligibility requirements, still receive limitations on their reletting costs. To be eligible, the tenant’s household income must have declined by at least 75%, and the tenant(s)’ savings must not exceed $4,999.99. If a tenant fails to meet these eligibility requirements and breaks the lease early, they may incur costs for the break, and may incur liabilities to financially compensate the owner[5].

4. Grant of short-term tenancy statement extensions for moveable dwellings

This is particularly relevant if the subject of your tenancy agreement is a caravan situated within a caravan park[6].

With these changes in mind, if you believe you have been unfairly impacted upon or are now at risk as a result of these changes, or you are a tenant or landlord wanting a more comprehensive understanding of your position regarding a tenancy agreement, the friendly commercial team at Corney & Lind Lawyers can help. Contact us today on (07) 3252 0011.

This article was written by Jackson Litzow & Barry Klooper

[1] Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 (Qld).

[2] Queensland Government, ‘Amended COVID-19 regulation and updated RTA forms: changes from 1 May 2021’, Queensland Government Residential Tenancies Authority (Webpage, 30 April 2021) <https://www.rta.qld.gov.au/news/2021/04/30/amended-covid-19-regulation-and-updated-rta-forms-changes-from-1-may-2021>.

[3] Queensland Government, ‘COVID-19 tenancy update’, Queensland Government Unite & Recover (Webpage, 29 April 2021) <https://www.covid19.qld.gov.au/the-hub/covid-19-tenancy-update>.

[4] Queensland Government (n 2).

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid

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