RTA dispute resolution service

Tenancy issues typically occur when there’s been a misunderstanding between parties due to miscommunication, or when someone has not met the terms of their agreement. 

If you have spoken to the other person directly and haven’t been able to self-resolve the issue, our dispute resolution service may be able to help. 

What is dispute resolution?

RTA dispute resolution is a free and confidential conciliation service to help property managers/owners and tenants/residents resolve their issues quickly and without the need for legal action. 

Our conciliators are impartial. Their role is to help you, and the other person, make informed decisions based on Queensland tenancy laws to reach an outcome that is mutually acceptable. They do not determine who is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, and they do not advocate on behalf of either party. 

Participation in the dispute resolution process is voluntary, which means each party gets to decide if they want to participate. The RTA currently has a 75 per cent success rate of resolving disputes where both parties agree to participate.  

Matters suitable for dispute resolution

Not all matters are suitable for RTA dispute resolution. 

The RTA facilitates disputes between property managers/owners and tenants/residents regarding:

  • bond refunds 
  • claims for compensation greater than the bond amount 
  • tenancy disputes. 

The RTA is unable to facilitate disputes: 

  • between tenants/residents and neighbours (these are managed by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal)
  • between property managers and property owners (these are managed by the Office of Fair Trading)
  • between co-tenants (apart from bond disputes) 
  • where one or both parties are:
    • unwilling to negotiate
    • unwilling to participate in conciliation
    • wish to proceed directly to QCAT
  • where the RTA has been unable to contact one or both parties to initiate the dispute resolution process
  • where there are issues or factors likely to impact on a fair and equitable outcome for everyone involved, or prevent someone from engaging in the process because they:
    • are unable to negotiate because of physical, intellectual or psychological incapacity, or
    • lack the skills or information to negotiate, or
    • do not have a suitable support person or advocate available
  • where the bond refund has already been paid out
  • where the claim exceeds the bond amount held by the RTA
  • where the claim is for more than $25,000 (these must be determined by the court with the appropriate monetary jurisdiction, not QCAT)
  • where an urgent application needs to proceed directly to QCAT without conciliation through the RTA’s dispute resolution service
  • where the dispute involves a legal matter that needs to be determined by QCAT or a court
  • where there are other current legal proceedings relating to the tenancy (for example, a criminal or a civil matter such as a personal injury claim)
  • for relatively minor or trivial matters, and parties are unwilling to participate
  • for the provision of a food service or personal care service to a resident in rooming accommodation.

How to apply

There are different paths to applying for dispute resolution, depending on the nature of the dispute. 

Bond refund disputes

Bond refund disputes typically happen when either the property manager/owner or tenant/resident has started the bond refund process without both parties agreeing how the bond will be paid out. 

The RTA sends each party a Notice of claim. If either person disagrees about the amount that is to be refunded, they can respond to the Notice of claim or submit a Dispute resolution request (Form 16).

Claims for compensation greater than the bond amount

As part of the bond refund process, the property manager/owner and tenant/resident have 14 days to respond to a Notice of claim from the RTA before the bond refund is released.

If either party disagrees about the amount that was refunded, they can submit a Dispute resolution request (Form 16).

Tenancy disputes

For disputes about matters occurring during a tenancy (such as rent increases, unfulfilled special terms, and maintenance and repairs), either party can lodge an Online Tenancy Dispute Resolution Web Service or submit a Dispute resolution request (Form 16)

Next steps

The RTA will confirm receipt of your request by email or letter, and will then contact you directly to discuss the details of your dispute. 

If the matter is suitable for conciliation, the RTA will then contact the other person to discuss the dispute and see if they’re willing to negotiate. 

If both parties are willing to participate in conciliation, the RTA will either:

  • host separate phone calls with each party (for straightforward issues) 
  • recommend a three-way teleconference (for complex issues).

If your dispute proceeds to a teleconference, read our advice for Preparing for a dispute resolution teleconference

If one or both parties are unwilling to participate, or parties are unable to reach an agreement during a teleconference, the RTA will issue a Notice of unresolved dispute. The person who lodged the initial dispute resolution request then has the option to pursue further options with QCAT.