Know the rules around repair orders

This is the second article in a three-part series where we take a detailed look at the key 1 October 2022 tenancy law changes relating to renting with pets, repairs and ending a tenancy.

In this article, we take an in-depth look at the changes to support Queenslanders to negotiate repairs. We outline how a tenant can request a repair order from the Queensland Civil and Administration Tribunal (QCAT) if repairs aren’t made, and how the property manager/owner can respond.

A list of helpful resources is provided at the end of this article.
 

What rental laws changes around repairs came into effect on 1 October 2022?   

Under the new legislation, tenants have the right to seek a repair order from QCAT if the property manager/owner has not rectified repairs within a reasonable timeframe of being notified.

It’s important to note that, the tenant must never stop paying rent to ensure repairs are made. Non-payment of rent is a breach of the agreement and grounds for termination.

Other changes to repairs under the new legislation are:

  • owners must provide details of nominated repairers for emergency repairs, and these must be included in the tenancy agreement
  • tenants can arrange emergency repairs to the value of up to four weeks’ rent through a nominated repairer or by notifying the property manager (previously they could only arrange to make emergency repairs to the value of up to two weeks’ rent)
  • property managers can arrange emergency repairs of up to four weeks’ rent and can deduct the expense from rent payments.

Not all repairs are emergency repairs. A full list of what constitutes an emergency repair can be found in the Repair orders fact sheet.
 

What is a repair order?

A repair order is an order made by QCAT addressing routine or emergency repairs that are needed to the rental property or its inclusions. Repair orders ensure property managers/owners take action to address repairs to a rental property and its inclusions in a timely manner.

A repair order includes any order or direction QCAT considers appropriate in the circumstances. For example, the order may include a due date for when the repair must be made by; who will pay for the repairs; or if rent will be reduced of compensation paid to the tenant for loss of amenities. For more information about what may be included in a repair order read the Repair orders fact sheet.

A repair order continues to apply to the rental property until it is complied with. Repair orders do not expire with the ending of a tenancy agreement or a change of ownership. This means a repair order can still be in place even if a new tenancy agreement is signed, new tenants move in, the property manager changes, or a property is sold.

Repair orders apply to all types of tenancy agreements, except moveable dwelling short tenancy and rooming accommodation agreements.
 

How does a tenant apply for a repair order?

The tenant should only apply for a QCAT repair order if they are unable to come to an agreement with the property manager/owner about the repair and all other options have been exhausted.

The process to apply for a repair order is different for emergency and routine repairs.
 

Emergency repairs

The tenant may make an urgent application to QCAT for a repair order if any of the following applies:

  • they have not been able to notify the nominated repairer or the managing party about the need for repairs
  • the emergency repair was not made within a reasonable time after the tenant notified the managing party or nominated repairer
  • the tenant is unable to arrange for a suitably qualified person to carry out emergency repairs themselves.
     

Routine repairs

The tenant should notify the property manager/owner of the damage as soon as practically possible and try to reach an agreement on a reasonable timeframe to carry out the repairs.

After speaking with the property manager/owner, the tenant may issue them with a Notice to remedy breach (Form 11) to formalise their request. The notice needs to give the property manager/owner a minimum of seven days to take action. Tenants should note that some repairs may take longer than seven days. Where possible, they should discuss a realistic timeframe with the property manager/owner before issuing the notice.

If the repair is not made within a reasonable time after the managing party has been informed, the tenant can lodge a Dispute resolution request (Form 16). If the matter remains unresolved, the tenant can apply to QCAT for a repair order within six months of becoming aware of the issue.
 

How does QCAT determine if they will issue a repair order?

QCAT will consider:

  • if the parties followed the correct process in dealing with the issues relating to routine repairs and emergency repairs
  • the conduct of the property owner/manager
  • the risk of injury to a person at the premises that is likely to be caused by the damage
  • the loss of amenity caused by the damage
  • any other matter the tribunal may consider relevant.

A copy of the repair order made by QCAT is sent to the RTA. It is an offence under the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 to contravene a repair order.
 

How should a property manager/owner respond to a repair order?

The property manager/owner must comply with any directions made by QCAT in the order.

If the property owner/manager believes they can’t comply with a repair order due date, they should make an urgent application to QCAT for a time extension prior to the due date of the repair order to avoid non-compliance.
 

Useful resources

You can find out more about the 1 October 2022 legislation changes on the RTA’s rental law changes resource webpage.

If you’d like to learn more about repairs under the new legislation:

  • read our repair orders fact sheet
  • watch our repair orders short video (1.46mins)
  • watch our repair orders and other amendments webinar (31.52min)
  • listen to our podcast episode about repair orders and more (8.41min)
  • read our maintenance and repairs webpage.
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