Rent negotiations

During the COVID-19 emergency period, it is important to acknowledge that both tenants and property manager/owners have been impacted. 

Tenants and property manager/owners may have entered into rent variation agreements which may have included rent reduction for a period of time, a rent waiver, rent deferral, or a negotiation regarding payment of any rent variation gap. 

Rent waiver: where the parties agree to reduce the rent for a period of time and the tenant does not have to repay the difference between the original rent and reduced rent.

Rent reduction: where the amount of rent to be paid is lower than the rent required to be paid under the tenancy agreement. Any obligations about whether the rent reduction is permanent, time limited or if the tenant is expected to repay the difference should be clearly understood.

Rent deferral: where the parties agree to reduce the rent for a period of time and the tenant has to repay the difference between the original rent reduced rent. This may include a repayment plan.

Rent variation: where the amount of rent to be paid is changed from the amount of rent that is required to be paid under the tenancy agreement.


If a rent variation agreement was entered into, it is still valid, even if it expires after 29 September 2020.  When the agreement expires, the tenant’s obligations return to the same terms as outlined in the original tenancy agreement. This may include reverting back to paying the original rent amount. 

It is important that any agreement is recorded in writing. If the tenant and property manager/owner agreed that the tenant should pay back a deferred rent amount or any other negotiated rent amount, property managers/owners need to consider all circumstances including a repayment schedule over a reasonable period of time. 

If there is unpaid rent (other than an agreed rent reduction), the tenant is considered to have breached the agreement. The property manager/owner can give the tenant a Notice to remedy breach (Form 11). Should the tenant not pay the arrears and rectify the breach, the property manager/owner can consider issuing the tenant a Notice to leave (Form 12) and follow the process and timeframes under the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008

Property managers/owners and tenants are encouraged to continue to work together, find solutions and resolve tenancy issues where possible. Both parties should be respectful and share documentation and evidence to try and come to a mutually agreeable outcome. Whether you are the tenant or the property manager/owner, we know it can be challenging to have these discussions. Our webinar providing practical tips on navigating difficult tenancy conversations may be able to help. 

If you can reach an agreement on the situation, ensure it is documented between you and the other person. If you are unable to reach an agreement, you can access the RTA’s free dispute resolution service for further assistance. 

In situations where a tenant continues to have trouble paying rent due to their circumstances, or the property owner suffers excessive hardship due to the tenancy continuing, both parties may negotiate to end the agreement. They can also apply to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) to end the tenancy on the grounds of excessive hardship

More information on managing unpaid rent can be found in the Residential Tenancies Practice Guide

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