There is a process to resolving tenancy disputes that starts with self-resolution. Good communication is the key to resolving most tenancy problems. When agreement cannot be reached after you discuss the issue directly with the other person, the RTA’s dispute resolution process can assist you to resolve the issue. Unresolved matters can be heard at the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT).
- Talk directly with the other person - this saves time and money
- If the dispute involves a breach of the agreement - issue a Notice to remedy breach (Form 11)
- If you reach agreement always put it in writing
Dispute resolution service
If you cannot reach agreement through self-resolution, an RTA conciliator may be able to help you negotiate an agreement with the other person. The RTA’s dispute resolution service is free and our conciliators are impartial.They help you, and the other person, make informed decisions and reach an outcome that is acceptable to you both. Conciliators do not determine who is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ and they cannot make decisions about disputes or enforce rules or regulations. The process is voluntary and people cannot be compelled to take part in the process.
- Apply for dispute resolution
- Prepare for conciliation
- Matters unsuitable for conciliation
- If the dispute is resolved the conciliator will clarify any agreement in writing. Everyone will sign the agreement and return the signed copy to the RTA. The agreement forms part of the tenancy agreement and QCAT can enforce it if necessary
- Dispute resolution process
If no resolution is reached, or if the matter is unsuitable for conciliation, an application may be made to QCAT for a decision. QCAT considers evidence and makes enforceable decisions. If the dispute relates to a bond refund, strict time limits apply.
The RTA’s free, confidential dispute resolution service helps tenants and property manager/owners resolve disputes without the need for legal action.
Before applying for dispute resolution always try and negotiate with the other person first.
Participation is voluntary and the RTA cannot compel a person to join the process.
In urgent situations the tenant or property manager/owner can apply directly to QCAT without first lodging a Dispute resolution request with the RTA.
The RTA conducts 2 types of conciliations:
- 3-way teleconference, or
- phone shuttle, where conciliators hold separate conversations with each person
How to apply
Bond refund disputes
Bond disputes occur when one or more parties respond to a Notice of claim from the RTA and disagree over how a bond refund should be paid out. You can dispute a proposed bond refund via RTA Web Services. If you do not have digital access, you can fill out a Dispute resolution request (Form 16) and send it to the RTA.
Tenancy disputes or claim greater than bond
For disputes about matters occurring during a tenancy (such as rent arrears, compensation or maintenance issues), or claims for compensation greater than the bond amount, you should complete the Tenancy Dispute Resolution Web Service. Send relevant supporting documents that set out the dispute details (e.g. rent ledger, cleaning invoice) directly to the other person.
Dispute resolution process
Our impartial conciliators guide the dispute resolution process and do not advocate for either person. Conciliators encourage both sides to reach an agreement and help participants consider possible options based on Queensland tenancy legislation. They cannot make a decision about the dispute.
RTA conciliation gives everyone an opportunity to have a say in the outcome. Conciliations are usually conducted during a conference call.
If the matter goes to QCAT, an adjudicator makes a decision and the people involved in the dispute do not have control over the outcome.
How to prepare
- nominate one person to take the call, and advise the RTA
- set aside up to 1 hour for the call
- think about the issues and write them down
- consider ways to resolve the issues and the outcome you would accept
- have all relevant documents ready
Take the call in a quiet place. Everyone will have a chance to present their views, listen to the other person and settle the dispute together. All participants should be authorised to make decisions.
If the dispute is resolved
The conciliator will put the agreement in writing and send a copy to each person to ensure there is a shared understanding of what will happen, who will do it, and when and how it will be done. Both people sign the agreement and return a copy to the RTA by the due date. The conciliation agreement forms part of the tenancy agreement which QCAT can enforce if necessary. If one or both people do not return a signed copy of the agreement by the due date the dispute remains unresolved.
If the dispute is not resolved
- the RTA will issue a Notice of unresolved dispute, and
- the person who lodged the initial dispute resolution request can choose to apply to QCAT for a decision.
When a problem cannot be resolved through dispute resolution, or the dispute is defined as ‘urgent’ under the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008, the matter may be taken to QCAT (time limits apply).
Disputes with neighbours
The RTA does not conciliate issues between co-tenants (apart from bond disputes), neighbours or disputes between property managers and owners.
- the Office of Fair Trading for information on disputes between property managers and owners
- QCAT for information on disputes between neighbours