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COVID-19 (novel coronavirus): Information for the Queensland residential rental sector

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Updated 30 March 2020

In response to the global novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, the Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA) appreciates this is a difficult and uncertain time for many in the Queensland residential rental sector.

The situation and advice from government authorities on the COVID-19 situation is evolving with the emergent nature of the pandemic.

The RTA is unable to give specific direction from a legislative perspective as the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 does not specifically address pandemic situations. However, we are in uncertain times and will await direction from the Federal and State Governments.

All parties in a tenancy should be aware of their rights and responsibilities under the Act, which have not changed at the time of publication.

However, the RTA suggests all parties be understanding and reasonable in their dealings with each other during this unprecedented situation.

Where a tenancy is impacted by the evolving situation, all parties – tenants, property managers and owners – are encouraged to consider each situation individually, talk to each other to negotiate a suitable outcome, document any decisions made, and adhere to any government and/or health agency requirements.

For the latest health information and advice regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus), please visit the Queensland Health website or the Australian Government Department of Health website, which includes coronavirus resources such as a home isolation and care fact sheet.

On the latest government announcements

On 29 March 2020, Australian governments met as the National Cabinet and announced that evictions will be put on hold for six months for residential and commercial tenancies affected by the financial impacts of COVID-19, with more information to come this week.

The Queensland Government is working through ways to implement the Commonwealth Government’s proposed changes to rental arrangements as quickly as possible.

You can learn more about the proposed measures by:

The Prime Minister announced on 24 March 2020 that real estate auctions, auction houses and gatherings of people in auction rooms, and open house inspections are no longer permitted as of midnight on 25 March. Private appointments for inspections are allowed
With regards to other specific circumstances that may occur in a tenancy at this time, the RTA offers the following suggestions

Routine inspections

If there is an opportunity to postpone or reschedule inspections to a time where all parties are comfortable, this is the best way to minimise risk. Alternatively, parties could discuss the possibility of conducting virtual inspections via photos or video calls, but any decisions should be mutually agreed and documented. All parties should advise each other early of any health, safety or financial impacts if the inspection does or doesn’t occur.

Entry to the property

Property managers/owners must comply with the rules of entering rental premises under the RTRA Act. Penalties apply for unlawful entry.

Before organising for anyone to enter the property, ask if any person planning to enter the property, or any person they are close to, is self-isolating, has been out of the country within the last 14 days, or is generally unwell.

All parties should adhere to Queensland Health’s directives as listed on its website.

If the tenant indicates that they have been overseas in the last 14 days, are feeling unwell or are self-isolating, it is recommended entry does not take place.

If an agent/tradesperson/potential buyer indicates the same, they should reconsider the need to enter the property.

If relevant persons indicate they are not at risk, normal entry notice periods apply. A tenant is not required to be present during the entry. All parties should consider how to minimise the potential for tension or stress on each other by communicating openly, understanding each other’s circumstances and developing an acceptable solution

For emergency repairs, consideration should be given to safety or impact to the tenant or owner should the repairs not be carried out. 

Paying rent

The Act doesn’t address pandemic situations, but we are in uncertain times and will await direction from the Federal and State Governments.

It is suggested that all parties proactively advise each other of any health, safety or financial impacts that may impact the tenancy, and be understanding and reasonable in their dealings with each other.

Parties are encouraged to act reasonably, communicate and mitigate loss or inconvenience to each other.

It is important to be clear in all communications, document any agreements made, and keep each other updated if circumstances change.

All parties should consider how to minimise the potential for tension or stress on each other by communicating openly, understanding each other’s circumstance and developing an acceptable solution.

Getting contracts signed or handing over keys

It is suggested that agents and prospective tenants protect themselves in accordance with Queensland Health’s advice, which includes social distancing to at least 1.5 metres, avoiding physical contact such as shaking hands, practicing good hygiene measures, and avoiding anyone who is unwell or self-isolating.

For tenancy information or support services, please explore our website or contact the RTA on 1300 366 311.

Quick links: Related RTA tenancy information

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