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 law 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
  • read our repair guidelines for property managers/owners factsheet
  • read our repair guidelines for tenants factsheet
  • 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.

Minimum housing standards now apply for new and renewed tenancies in Queensland.

Learn more about minimum housing standards: 

  • read our minimum housing standards resources, updated pocket guides and forms news article
  • read our rental law changes webpage
Original publication on 22 Nov 2022
Last updated on 28 Sep 2023

Note: While the RTA makes every reasonable effort to ensure that information on this website is accurate at the time of publication, changes in circumstances after publication may impact on the accuracy of material. This disclaimer is in addition to and does not limit the application of the Residential Tenancies Authority website disclaimer.