After a natural disaster, property managers or owners and tenants should talk to each other as soon as possible to discuss the state of the rental property and determine if any action needs to be taken.
If repairs are required, it is usually the property manager or owner’s responsibility to organise and pay for repairs. They should negotiate with the tenant to find a suitable time for the repairs to be done.
If the property has been affected and it is agreed the tenant can continue to live there, in some cases the tenant and manager or owner may choose to negotiate a rent reduction.
If the property is considered unliveable and the tenant has to live elsewhere for a short period while the property is being fixed, the property owner or manager and tenant can negotiate amendments to their agreement regarding rent payments for that period.
The property owner or manager is not allowed to evict the tenant in favour of another tenant who will pay higher rent. Heavy penalties apply.
If the property becomes unsafe to live in, either the tenant or the property manager or owner has to officially end the tenancy agreement by issuing the relevant form.
If the property manager or owner asks the tenant to leave but the tenant wants to stay, the tenant can dispute the request to leave.
But if the property is deemed unliveable and the tenant refuses to leave the lessor can apply to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) for a termination order due to failure to leave.
In all the above cases, if direct negotiations between the property manager or owner and tenant are not successful, the RTA offers practical solutions for self-resolution plus a free dispute resolution service.
If cases still cannot be resolved, matters can be decided by QCAT.
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/resident 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 everyone.
- If a property is damaged, the tenant/resident and the property manager/owner or provider 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 everyone. Under the Act, tenants/residents 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.
- The RTA encourages tenants/resident and property managers/owners or providers to try to resolve issues by talking to each other. If you are still unable to agree, you may apply for dispute resolution.
The property manager/owner or provider 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/resident is responsible for removing or cleaning their possessions.
You are encouraged to communicate with each other about the clean up to resolve any issues. If you are unable to agree about cleaning and repairs, you may apply for dispute resolution.
- 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/resident cannot be evicted for one who will pay a higher rent outside of the normal rules for ending a tenancy.
- The property manager/owner or provider 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.