Queensland’s tenancy laws are changing quite significantly, and while some changes came into effect last year most of them will be phased in over the next three-year period.
The changes that delivered the Housing Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 are the result of a Queensland Government led consultation process that began in 2018. There were 135,000 responses to the initial call for submissions, and 15,000 further responses to the Regulatory Impact Statement that followed. This response is perhaps not surprising when you consider an estimated 34 per cent of Queensland residents are renters.
Domestic and family violence provisions
The domestic and family violence provisions were the first to come into effect in October last year. These provisions largely replicated what had already been put in place as part of the COVID-19 protections. They enable a tenant who is experiencing domestic and family violence to bypass the usual requirements and financial obligations associated with terminating a lease. They allow for only seven days’ notice and those seven days of rent is all they will be liable to pay.
Pets and termination provisions
Provisions two and three come into effect on October 1st, 2022 and relate to pets and terminations respectively. These provisions can be summarised as follows:
The new legislation effectively eliminates a landlord’s right to have a ‘no pets’ policy, but tenants will still need to ask approval for a pet. The landlord does have right to say no, but only based on certain prescribed grounds.
To mitigate tension between pet owners and landlords, the government has introduced two key changes.
Firstly, pet damage has been excluded from the definition of fair wear and tear meaning landlords will be able to seek compensation for damage caused by pets.
Secondly, an owner can impose conditions in the approval of a pet, a violation of which could potentially be a breach of the general tenancy agreement.
The termination provision ensures the landlord’s right to end a tenancy after the culmination of a fixed term agreement. The tenant no longer has the ability to end a tenancy without grounds, with new grounds for termination being established in this provision.
An important ground for termination is a fixed term tenancy reaching the end of its agreed term. This becomes an actual ground that a landlord can rely on when they give a notice to leave.
Other grounds include the landlord wishing to sell the property, the owner or a family member wishing to move back in or the property being developed. They all still require the fixed term tenancy to come to an end before they can be relied upon.
Minimum housing standards provisions
Provision four relates to introduction of minimum housing standards. The standards will focus on safety, security and reasonable functionality. They will also enhance the current repairs and maintenance provisions.
Minimum housing standards for new tenancy arrangements will be applied from September 1st, 2023, and for all tenancies from September 1st, 2024.
More detail regarding the new provisions, please visit the Queensland Government’s Residential Tenancies Authority at www.rta.qld.gov.au.
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