Self-resolving tenancy issues

Good communication is key to resolving most tenancy issues.

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. 

The RTA encourages everyone to work proactively and respectfully to self-resolve tenancy issues in the first instance. This also helps to prevent or reduce the risk of the issue escalating into a dispute.

What is self-resolution?

Self-resolution involves speaking directly to the other person about the issue to find a solution (without the intervention of a third party to mediate the conversation).  

Self-resolution can:

  • help find a mutually agreeable solution quickly
  • prevent the issue from getting worse
  • strengthen the relationship between parties
  • save time and money for everyone involved.
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Case study: The benefits of raising tenancy issues proactively

A tenant notices that the kitchen tap at their rental property is leaking intermittently and reports it to their property manager.

Proactive communication

When noticing the leak, the tenant considers that this may have the potential to cause bigger issues in the future if left unaddressed. The tenant reviews past correspondence with the property manager, and realises that they aren’t due for a routine inspection for another two months. The tenant emails the property manager about the leak for their awareness. 

The property manager responds to the email, and thanks the tenant for keeping them informed. The property manager records the date they were advised of the leak, and makes a note to inspect the tap during the next routine inspection. 

Both parties are happy and potential issues are avoided.

Reactive communication

When noticing the leak, the tenant deems this is a minor issue that doesn’t warrant a repair. They make a mental note to raise it at the next routine inspection.

At the next routine inspection, the leak doesn’t present itself and the tenant forgets to raise it with the property manager.

A few weeks later, a pipe bursts at the rental property and the tenant calls the property manager to request an emergency repair.

On arrival, the tenant advises the property manager that the tap has been leaking intermittently for months. This leaves the property manager feeling frustrated as the repairs mean significant costs for the owner. This causes tension in the property manager/tenant relationship.

Tips to self-resolve tenancy issues

There are multiple ways to approach self-resolution. 

Having a face-to-face conversation (either online or in person) with the other person reduces the risk of parties misunderstanding each other, which can often happen when only communicating via emails, letters or text messages.

Remember: Self-resolution can be practiced at any time, even if you have applied for RTA dispute resolution

Before the conversation

Before the conversation, it’s important to:

  • familiarise yourself with your legal rights and responsibilities under Queensland’s tenancy laws
  • review the tenancy agreement, including any special terms
  • think about what the issue is, what you’d like to happen, and where you’re willing to negotiate
  • collate any relevant documentation (for example, emails, photos, rent ledgers, receipts) to support your side of the conversation
  • acknowledge what the rental property may mean to the other party – it will usually be tenant/resident’s home, the property owner’s investment, or the property manager’s day-to-day business 
  • reflect on what you know about the other party (their age, culture, and any language barriers) and use this information to tailor your communication in a way that will be mutually beneficial. 

During the conversation

During the conversation, it’s important to:

  • stay calm
  • keep an open mind
  • be respectful
  • be mindful of your tone of voice and choice of words
  • be realistic and constructive 
  • focus on the facts
  • listen and ask clarifying questions
  • share any documentation or evidence
  • be willing to negotiate
  • be clear and concise.

After the conversation

 After the conversation, it’s important to:

  • document what was discussed in writing and share this with the other party (including any agreements, actions, and timeframes)
  • keep the lines of communication open for future contact, and document all correspondence moving forward (including communication via phone calls, text messages, emails, letters, documents and photos).

Next steps if you're unable to reach an agreement

If you are unable to resolve the issue or reach an agreement through self-resolution, you can contact the RTA to discuss your specific situation and your options. This could be: