RTA Rental Law Changes
Latest Rental law changes
The RTA encourages tenants, property managers and owners to take time to understand Queensland government rental law changes and how they impact their rights and responsibilities. Visit the RTA resources page for full details.
Rent increase changes
Legislation to limit rent increase frequency to once every 12 months will come into effect from 1 July 2023.
Minimum housing standards from 1 September 2023 come into effect for new tenancies from 1 September 2023 and all tenancies from 1 September 2024.
Minimum Housing Standards
Minimum housing standards will come into effect for new tenancies from 1 September 2023 and for all tenancies from 1 September 2024.
Minimum housing standards aim to ensure all Queensland rental properties are safe, secure and functional and provide tenants, residents, property managers and owners more clarity around the maintenance obligations for rental properties.
Questions and Answers
What are minimum housing standards?
Minimum housing standards specify that rental properties must:
-Be weatherproof and structurally sound
-Be in good repair, with fixtures and fittings (such as electrical appliances) that are not likely to cause injury through normal use
-Have functioning locks or latches on all external doors and windows that can be reached without a ladder
-Be free from vermin, dampness and mould (this does not include cases where the vermin, dampness or mould has been caused by the tenant)
-Include curtains or other window coverings, which provide privacy in rooms where the tenant might reasonably expect it, such as bedrooms
-Have adequate plumbing and drainage and be connected to hot and cold water that is suitable for drinking
-Provide privacy in bathroom areas and have flushable toilets connected to a sewer, septic tank or other waste disposal system
-Have a functioning cook-top, if a kitchen is provided
-Include the necessary fixtures for a functional laundry, such as tap fixtures and adequate plumbing, if laundry facilities are provided. The laundry does not have to include a washing machine or other white goods, as these may be provided by the tenant.
Does a rental property need to meet minimum housing standards from 1 September 2023 if an existing tenant renews their tenancy after that date?
Yes. The 1 September 2023 introduction of minimum housing standards for new tenancies applies to all new tenancy agreements. This includes tenancy agreements which are being renewed, even if the existing tenants are staying at the property.
What does weatherproof and structurally sound mean?
Weatherproof means the roofing or windows must prevent water from entering the premises when it rains. Structurally sound means the building must be safe for the tenant to live in. The walls, ceiling and roof must be in good condition. They must not be likely to collapse or be affected by significant dampness. Decks and stairs must also be safe and not affected by rot or defects.
Will all external doors and windows need to have locks or latches for the property to meet minimum housing standards?
To meet minimum housing standards, all external windows and doors at a property will need to have functioning locks or latches to secure the premises against unauthorised entry. This applies only to windows and doors a person outside the premises or room (for rooming accommodation) could access without a ladder.
Each property should be assessed on a case-by-case basis. The main focus should be on ensuring the rental property is secure and that reasonable measures have been taken to meet safety and security requirements under the legislation.
Will every room in the rental property need to have a blind, curtain or other privacy covering to meet minimum housing standards?
Privacy coverings must be provided in rooms where the tenant might reasonably expect it, such as in bedrooms. Privacy coverings can include blinds, curtains, tinted windows, and glass frosting. Privacy coverings are not required for windows which are blocked from outside view by a fence, hedge, tree or other feature of the property.
Who is responsible for mould, damp or vermin during a tenancy?
If mould, dampness or vermin appears in a rental property during the tenancy, the tenant should notify the property manager/owner as soon as they are aware of the issue.
If the issue is caused by problems with the structure of the property, the property manager/owner is responsible for fixing it and making any necessary repairs.
Examples could include mould caused by a leaking roof or a termite infestation in the walls. The property manager/owner is also responsible for fixing any issues that are caused by reasonable use of the property. Examples would include a leaking shower which cannot be turned off or a stove top that does not work.
If the issue is caused by the actions of the tenant, the tenant is responsible for any necessary repairs. Examples could include mould caused by the tenant allowing steam to build up in a bathroom and not properly ventilating or cleaning the area, or a vermin problem which may have been caused because the actions of the tenant attracted the animals to the property.
Pets, Repair Orders and Ending a Tenancy
Rental law changes around pets, repair orders and ending a tenancy came into effect on 1 October 2022.
Under these changes:
-Tenants and property owners/managers have a wider range of specific reasons to end a tenancy with the appropriate notice periods.
-A framework has been introduced to support negotiations about renting with pets.
-Repair orders have been introduced as an additional pathway for tenants to have repairs addressed in a timely manner.
When should a Notice to leave be issued for the end of a fixed term tenancy?
A Notice to leave can be issued for the end of a fixed term tenancy up to one day prior to the end of a fixed term tenancy without the tenancy reverting to a periodic tenancy, providing the correct timeframe has been applied.
For example, a Notice to leave was issued on 14 November 2022 providing two months’ notice to leave for the end of a fixed term tenancy that expires on 15 November 2022, after 15 November 2022 the tenancy does not revert to a periodic tenancy and the tenants have until the expiry date on the notice to vacate.
What happens if a tenant is issued a Notice to leave for the end of a fixed term tenancy that expires after the end date of their fixed term tenancy? When can they vacate and will they be responsible for any break lease costs?
A fixed term tenancy ends on 1 March 2023
The tenant is issued with a Notice to leave for the end of a fixed term tenancy on 15 February 2023
The Notice to leave provides the required two months’ notice
The notice expires on 15 April 2023
If the tenant vacates prior to 1 March 2023 (end of the fixed term) the tenant may be responsible for reasonable re-letting costs as they vacated prior to the end of their fixed term agreement.
If the tenant vacates on or after 1 March 2023 but before 15 April 2023, they can do so provided the appropriate notice has been given.
Can a managing party issue a Notice to leave without grounds?
As of 1 October 2022, managing parties can no longer end a tenancy without a specific reason (without grounds). They must provide a specific reason for ending the tenancy on the Notice to leave. Ending a fixed term agreement can be given as a reason for ending a fixed term tenancy.
How can a periodic tenancy be ended?
A periodic tenancy can be ended in a number of ways including:
-For an unremedied breach that is a failure to pay rent
-Unremedied breach is any failure other than a failure to pay rent
-Non-compliance (tribunal order)
-Ending of entitlement (employment)
-Ending of accommodation assistance
-Ending of housing assistance
-Serious breach (public and community housing)
-State government program
-Demolition or redevelopment
-Significant repairs or renovation
-Change of use
-Mortgagee in possession
-Tribunal order (urgent application) for:
-Failure to leave
-Damage or injury
On our page, RTA Rental Rules can be found a full list of reasons for ending a tenancy
What if a pet was already approved (prior to 1 October 2022) to be kept in a rental property, does another approval need to occur after 1 October?
Approval for a pet given prior to 1 October 2022 will still apply after this date. However, all conditions about keeping the pet must comply with the amended RTRA Act.
How is a pet request managed when a rental property is subject to body corporate by-laws?
A body corporate committee may also be required to approve pets where a property is subject to by-laws and the committee process may take more than 14 days to consider the request. A landlord may refuse a pet approval application on the basis that approval would contravene a body corporate by-law applying to the premises – this would apply if body corporate approval was required under the relevant by-laws and had not yet been obtained.
Tenants are encouraged to refer to their by-laws to identify any restrictions about pets before considering making a request or commitment to keep a pet as breaching by-laws is a breach of a tenancy agreement. Tenants can dispute a body corporate committee’s decision through the Body Corporate and Community Management Commission.
What happens if a squatter is on the premises?
The Act predominantly applies to agreements between managing parties and tenants. Amendments to the Act on 1 October 2022 allow an owner of residential premises to apply to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) for the issue of a warrant of possession in circumstances where there is no residential tenancy agreement in effect for the premises and a person is occupying the premises without the owner’s consent.
A property owner who suspects their premises are being occupied by squatters should consider seeking independent legal advice.