- Queensland is facing the worst rental crisis in recent history
- The Housing Legislation Amendment Act 2021 (Qld) is set to improve the rights and standards of renting for Queensland residential tenants
- Legislation for the protections of victims of domestic and family violence was introduced in October 2021
- As of 1 October 2022, new legislation will:
- increase the rights of tenants to keep animals in rental properties, end tenancies and improve the standard of housing; and
- restrict the rights of landlords to terminate tenancies without grounds.
About the Rental Crisis
High demand and short supply of Queensland housing, largely from interstate migration, has created a monopoly for landlords. The situation grows significantly dire for tenants, with low vacancy rates and continuing price hikes for rental properties.
In light of the continuing rental crisis the Queensland Government has implemented new legislation, set to roll out in three stages. The Housing Legislation Amendment Act 2021 (Qld) (the Act) is stage one of the Queensland Law Reform and is set to improve the rights and standards of renting for Queensland tenants. In its explanatory notes, the Housing Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 (Qld) set out an objective to ‘ensure Queenslanders have access to safe, secure, and affordable housing’.
The introduction of reforms under this Act is staggered to allow landlords to adequately prepare for the changes.
Changes from October 2021
The first of these changes was implemented in October of 2021. The legislative amendments improved the rights of tenants who are victims of domestic violence to end tenancies and recover their bonds.
Changes from October 2022
More changes are set to be introduced under the legislative amendments beginning 1 October 2022.
The new legislation will change the rights of landlords to end tenancies. An amendment to section 291 of the Act will prevent landlords from removing tenants ‘without grounds’. Instead, the rights of a landlord to provide the tenant with a notice to leave under section 291 are restricted to the ending of a fixed term agreement.
However, new provisions will be introduced empowering landlords to terminate tenancies under the following circumstances:
- ending a fixed term agreement (section 291);
- planned demolition or redevelopment (section 290C);
- significant repair or renovations (section 290D);
- change of use (section 290 E); and
- owner occupation (section 290G).
These provisions ensure that the rights of landlords to end tenancies are not removed entirely but restricted to specific, reasonable grounds.
Further, the insertion of section 307A will allow tenants to terminate tenancies within the first 7 days of occupation where the property fails to comply with the minimum housing standard, where the house is in disrepair or is otherwise unfit for occupation.
As of October 2022, renters seeking to live with a pet cannot have their application declined without ‘reasonable grounds’. A landlord will only be entitled to refuse an application to keep a pet on the premises on the grounds set out in section 184E of the Act. These grounds include where keeping the pet on the premises would be a breach of the property’s By-Laws (section 184E(f)), or a safety (section 184E(d)) or security risk (section 184E(b)). Further, under section 184D(4)(a), a landlord who does not respond to a tenant’s request within 14 days is taken to have approved the request.
This legislation prevents landlords from unreasonably declining applications by tenants to keep pets on the premises, increasing the rights of renters to keep pets.
Landlords can however impose certain conditions on allowing indoor pets, such as having carpets professionally cleaned at the end of the tenancy.
Standards of Housing
Section 219A provides that both tenants and the property agents are authorised to arrange for emergency repairs of up to the equivalent of 4 weeks rent without the lessor’s approval, and then deduct the amount from rent. This change will likely improve the living standards of tenants by decreasing the unnecessary delay in making emergency repairs.
The Impact of these changes
Consistent with the before mentioned objectives, the Act increases the rights and security of renters in Queensland. The CEO of the Real Estate Institute of Queensland, Antonia Mercorella explains that amendments are “very much focused on tenant protection and giving the tenants greater rights”.
Landlords however are concerned that the restrictions on ending tenancies will result in lifelong periodic tenancies if fixed term agreements are not renewed or terminated with correct notice. Some property owners view the changes as an attack on their rights to regulate and manage their properties as they see fit.
Ultimately, the changes provide much needed security and improved rights to renters in an increasingly impossible rental market. The changes are welcomed in the interest of improved living conditions for many Queenslanders.
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Author Aspen Roggeveen