Renting

Choosing a rental property

A property owner or landlord owns a rental property but it is a tenant’s home. 

Tenants should make sure a property matches their needs before signing a tenancy agreement. 

They should also read the agreement and any special terms carefully before signing it.

Checklist

  • Is the property the right size?
  • Is it in the right location for work and social activities?
  • Is it suitable for pets or children?
  • Can you maintain the property? (e.g. can you look after a pool, or large garden?)
  • Does the property have the facilities you need? (e.g. does it have a broadband connection? If not, can it be added and who will pay for these services to be made available?
  • Will you have to pay for water usage?
  • In a rural property will you need to refill the water tank in dry weather?
  • Will there be additional costs for occasional garden maintenance? (e.g. disposing of green waste, tree pruning)
  • In a caravan park, will there be extra site costs?
  • If there are gas bottles, will they be filled at the start of the tenancy and will a receipt be provided?
  • Does the property have the level of security you require? (e.g. screens on windows)

There are services that may help you choose a suitable rental property.

Key deposit

A prospective tenant may be asked to pay a key deposit to inspect a rental property.

The property manager/owner must provide a receipt for the deposit which must be fully refunded when the key is returned.

A property manager/owner cannot take any other payments from a prospective tenant. If they take other payments (e.g. a security or linen deposit), they must be part of the rental bond and must comply with the maximum bond rules.

A property manager/owner cannot charge an application fee to a prospective tenant.

Holding deposit

A tenant can be asked for a deposit to reserve/hold a property they intend to rent.

The property manager/owner can only take one holding deposit at a time for a property.

The tenant must be given a copy of the proposed agreement (including any special terms, by-laws or park rules) before money is taken.

Holding period

The tenant and the property manager/owner must agree on the holding period for the deposit. If none is agreed the period is 48 hours. The holding period should be written on the receipt.

Tenant decides not to rent the property

If the tenant does not want to rent the property and tells the property manager/owner within the holding period their deposit must be refunded within 3 days.

If the tenant does not tell the property manager/owner within the holding period they are not going ahead with the rental, or if they say they will proceed but do not enter into a tenancy agreement, they forfeit their deposit.

Tenant signs a tenancy agreement

When a tenant signs the agreement the holding deposit becomes part of the rental bond. Any surplus amounts then become rent.

Pets

Before renting a property, a tenant should seek permission from the property manager/owner to keep a pet.

A tenant can only keep a pet on the property if the tenancy agreement states pets are allowed. It may also state the number and type of pets that may be kept and whether the pet can be kept inside or outside the property.

Tenants should consider if the property is suitable for pets (e.g. enough room, fencing, pet doors) and if their pet could cause any damage to the property (e.g. torn screens or lawn damage).

The issue of pest control should also be considered.

A separate pet bond cannot be charged.

Rent bidding

Rent bidding is illegal.

A rental property must be advertised at a fixed price; failing to do so is an offence.

A property manager/owner must not:

  • advertise a rent range
  • put a property up for rent auction
  • ask for offers

However, a prospective tenant can offer more than the amount advertised and the property manager/owner may accept their offer.

The property manager/owner does not have to display the price on a ‘for rent’ sign at the property.

A tenant who believes a property manager/owner has induced them into a rent auction may contact the RTA.

If the property manager/owner has engaged in deceptive or misleading behaviour the RTA may refer the complaint to the Office of Fair Trading or the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Tenancy databases

Tenancy databases are registers run by privately owned companies. They record information about tenants who have had their tenancies ended for specific reasons.

The RTA does not operate or maintain information on tenancy databases.

Property managers/owners can use these registers during an application process to check the prospective tenant's rental history.

The property manager/owner must inform prospective tenants:

  • of the tenancy databases they use, if they find a listing for a tenant
  • what that listing is for, and
  • how to have it amended or removed.

Reasons a tenant can be listed

A tenant can be listed on a database at the end of a tenancy if:

  • the money owed by the tenant is more than the bond including:
    • rent arrears (Notice to remedy breach (Form 11) must have been given)
    • abandonment of property
    • money owed after an agreement has been reached through RTA conciliation or a QCAT order that has not been paid
  • no bond was paid, a tenant cannot be listed unless the amount owing is more than 1 week's rent
  • the tenancy has been terminated by QCAT because of:repeated breaches of a conciliation agreement by the tenant
  • objectionable behaviour by the tenant

Victims of domestic and family violence should not be listed if the breach is the result of the actions of a perpetrator of violence

Changing or removing a listing

A tenancy database company and the person who makes a listing are both responsible for ensuring the quality of personal information on a database.

If a property manager/owner becomes aware that information they have listed is inaccurate, incomplete or ambiguous they must let the database operator know in writing within 7 days how to amend it. The same applies for removing out-of-date information. They must also keep records of these notifications for a year.

The database must amend or remove the information within 14 days of being notified.
All listings must be removed after 3 years.

The property manager/owner may also make a complaint to the Office of the Federal Privacy Commissioner.

Disputing a listing

A tenant can dispute a listing if they feel it is inaccurate, incomplete, ambiguous and out-of- date or does not meet the listing criteria set out in the Act. They must dispute this within 6 months of becoming aware of the listing.

Database companies include TICA, National Tenancy Database, Trading Reference Australia and RP Data.

Queensland tenancy laws

Renting laws in Australia vary from state to state.

In Queensland there are rules surrounding the rental of a house, unit, share house, room, caravan or houseboat.

These rules are set out in the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 (the Act).

The Act states:

  • the rights and responsibilities of tenants and property managers/owners
  • what tenants and property managers/owners can and cannot do
  • how to address issues that may arise during the tenancy, and
  • what happens if the tenant/property manager/owner breaks the law.

The Act applies to:

  • tenants renting a house, unit or caravan from a property manager/owner
  • tenants renting a room from a rooming accommodation manager

It does not apply to:

  • contracts of sale or mortgages if the sale of contract is for 28 days or less
  • holiday lettings
  • rental purchase plan agreements
  • temporary refuge accommodation (e.g. a women’s shelter)
  • commercial property (e.g. shop leases)
  • renting outside of Queensland

There are other types of rental accommodation that may be covered by the Act. Contact the RTA for more information.

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