8 May 2020
The global COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live and work. Queenslanders have been spending more time at home as a result of social distancing and self-isolation guidelines to help reduce the spread of the virus. We know that many people have also been impacted financially due to COVID-19. If you are in this situation and worried about your finances, you might be considering the option of sub-letting or inviting new housemates into your home.
If you are sharing your home or sub-letting, you need to be aware of the guidelines around social distancing, visitors to the house and ensure you are complying with government and health agency directives. Visit the Australian Government and the Queensland Health websites for the most up-to-date essential information.
From a tenancy perspective, make sure you are aware of the rules and responsibilities in a sub-letting or house-share arrangement. Here are three things you should consider before inviting another person to join your household.
1. Check the number of approved occupants allowed
When a tenancy or rooming agreement is signed before the start of a tenancy, the agreement will state the number of approved occupants that can reside in the property.
If there are more occupants residing in the property than the approved number as stated in the tenancy agreement, this can be considered a breach of the agreement.
It is also possible that your local council may have a limit on the number of unrelated occupants in a household. It would be useful to check your region’s dwelling occupancy rules and other regulations that may apply to the property, or discuss this with your property manager/owner.
2. Get permission from the property manager/owner
Anyone living at the rental property must be approved by the property manager/owner as an occupant, even if they are not listed as a tenant on the tenancy agreement.
This means that if you wish to sub-let the rental property in part or in full, you will need to seek permission from the property owner/manager to do so. Ensure you understand the rules and requirements when sub-letting and document any agreements reached in writing.
3. Understand your rights and responsibilities
It’s important that everyone understands their rights and responsibilities under the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 (the Act), particularly in relation to the temporary changes in tenancy law during the COVID-19 emergency period.
When tenants change and the rental bond arrangements change during a tenancy, a Change of bond contributors (Form 6) must be completed and sent to the RTA.
Keeping an accurate record of who has contributed to the bond as it changes will ensure a smoother process at the end of your tenancy when you request your bond to be refunded.
With the evolving COVID-19 situation causing concern and disruption to many people, the RTA encourages tenants, property owners and property managers to communicate openly and be understanding and reasonable in their dealings with each other.