Natural disasters

A tenancy agreement does not automatically end as a result of a natural disaster (e.g. flooding, cyclone), even if the property is totally destroyed. However, it can be ended quickly if the correct notice is given. The tenant is still responsible for paying rent until the tenancy ends.

A tenancy agreement will only end if one of the following happens:

If either party disagrees with the notice, they can dispute it by lodging a Dispute resolution request (Form 16) with the RTA.

After a natural disaster

  • A property may be declared unliveable if it is unsafe to live in for health and safety reasons, or if the property cannot be occupied. The tenancy can be ended on the day the notice is given, but must be done within 1 month of the disaster. See If the property becomes unliveable for more information.
  • The tenant may be evacuated; however, they must still pay the rent. It may be possible to negotiate a rent reduction for this period but it must be discussed on a case-by-case basis and the agreement should be put in writing and signed by all parties.
  • If a property is damaged, the lessor and the tenant may come to an agreement to reduce the rent until the property is returned to the condition prior to the disaster. The agreement should be put in writing and signed by all parties. Under the Act, tenants may ask for a rent reduction if:
    • the property is partly unfit to live in
    • if services, facilities or goods to be provided to the tenant are no longer available 
    • if the amenity or standard of the property decreases substantially, so long as the damage was not caused by the tenant.
  • You may need emergency repairs on the property.
  • If an agreement cannot be reached between the lessor/agent and tenant then the RTA's free dispute resolution service may be able to assist.

Cleaning

The lessor/agent is responsible for the maintenance and repairs needed to bring the property back to a liveable condition, as well as fences, gardens and pools. These repairs need to comply with health and safety laws. The tenant is responsible for removing or cleaning their possessions. Lessors and tenants are encouraged to communicate with each other about the clean up.

If either party disagrees about cleaning and repairs, the RTA’s free dispute resolution service may be able to assist.

Fast facts

  • Following a natural disaster the rental market can become competitive but the rent cannot be increased outside of the normal rules for rent increases.
  • A tenant cannot be evicted for one who will pay a higher rent outside of the normal rules for ending a tenancy.
  • The lessor is responsible for maintaining the property in good repair, but will need to comply with Entry notice requirements when repairs are being done.
  • Bond processing with the RTA could be affected if postal services in Brisbane or in the affected area are disrupted. Contact us for information on extended processing times.

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