Host – Belinda Heit – Communication and Education – RTA
Guest – Megan James – Strategy and Government Relations – RTA
Host: Welcome to the Talking Tenancies podcast. Brought to you by the Residential Tenancies Authority, I'm your host, Belinda Heit. Join me as we explore everything you need to know about renting in Queensland with experts from the RTA and industry. We're here to help make renting work for everyone.
Queensland tenancy laws are changing from 1 October 2022. The new laws provide tenants, property managers and owners with a greater number of reasons to end a tendency, a framework for negotiating renting with pets, and repair orders, as well as a few other amendments.
In this episode, we'll be providing an overview of the new tenancy laws taking effect from 1 October 2022. There will be separate episodes that detail each of the key changes in the following month.
Today's expert from the RTA is Megan James. Welcome Megan.
Guest: Thank you.
Host: Now, can you tell us about your role and what you're responsible for?
Guest: OK, certainly. So I'm the Manager of the Strategy and Government Relations team here at the RTA, and I'm currently leading the project team that's responsible for implementing the Queensland tenancy law changes outlined in the Housing Legislation Amendment (HLA) Act 2021.
Host: Now we know the next phase of tenancy law changes are coming into effect from 1 October 2022. What are the changes?
Guest: Yeah. So that's right, Belinda. And the key date to remember here is the 1st of October 2022. This is when the next phase of tenancy law changes take effect. So, the first changes came in last year and they were associated with domestic and family violence.
The changes coming in now give tenants, property managers and owners a wider number of reasons to end a tenancy, as well as introducing repair orders, and also a new framework to support negotiations around renting with pets.
Host: So let's step through each of the main changes, starting with the new framework for renting with pets. What's new, and what can we expect?
Guest: OK, so the new framework for renting with pets will support property owners and tenants who are in a tenancy to reach an agreement on having a pet in a rental property. Also, from the 1st of October 2022, tenants should seek the property owner’s approval to keep a pet, using an approved RTA form, and the property owner will then have 14 days to respond to the pet request.
If the property owner approves the request for a pet, they can outline reasonable conditions for keeping the pet in the rental property. So an example of a reasonable condition could be requesting the tenant to conduct our professional pest control at the end of their tenancy because the pet may carry fleas. The property owner can't ask for additional bond money or more rent as a condition for approving a pet request.
If the property owner doesn't approve the pet request, they have to provide a reason for refusing the request in their response to justify that decision. And so reasons for refusing a pet request could be that, you know, keeping a pet would be a breach of health and safety laws. Another reason could be that keeping the pet contravenes a law that applies to the property, such as a local council bylaw or park rules. And also keep in mind that if you are renting a unit, an apartment or a townhouse, the body corporate bylaws are part of your tenancy agreement and so you'll need approval for the pet from the body corporate as well as the property owner.
Host: Good to know. So it sounds like the new framework gives more structure for tenants and property owners to have discussions about renting with pets. Now another key change to the tenancy laws is about ending a tenancy. Can you talk us through that?
Guest: Sure can, Belinda. So as you know, Queensland tenancy laws outline how a tenancy can end and the required notice time frames associated to end a tenancy.
So from the 1st of October 2022, property managers, owners and tenants have a wider range of reasons available to end a tenancy. Having said that, property owners and managers must specify a reason for ending a tenancy from the 1st of October because ending a tenancy without grounds— which means, without stating a reason for ending the tenancy—will no longer be available after the 1st of October 2022. So all other reasons for ending a tenancy that existed prior to the 1st of October 2022, will still remain. So, for example, due to an unremedied breach or non-liveability, those haven't changed.
New reasons for property managers and owners to end a tenancy include: end of a fixed term agreement; owner or their relative may be moving in; a property might require significant repairs or renovations; there may be planned demolition or redevelopment; there may be a change of use of the property if the property is changing from being a long-term rental or to a holiday letting; and for student accommodation providers if the tenant is no longer a student.
Tenants also have additional reasons to end a tenancy. So, for example, if the property is not fit to live in or not in good repair; if a cotenant passes away; and if the property owner or manager fails to comply with a repair order.
Host: So you've mentioned repair orders. Can you give us some more information around those?
Guest: Sure. So the introduction of repair orders, which also takes effect from the 1st of October 2022, gives tenants an additional pathway to have unactioned repairs in the property addressed. So if a tenant has notified a property manager or owner of a necessary repair and formalised it by say issuing a breach notice, but the repair still hasn't been addressed in a reasonable timeframe, the tenant then has the option to apply for a repair order from the tribunal to ensure the property owner or manager makes the repairs.
So, importantly, the repair order from the tribunal will actually be attached to the rental property and not to a specific tenancy. So even if the tenants change and there's a new tenancy agreement for the rental property, the repair order, if it's been unactioned, will still remain in effect until it is complied with. Tenants can apply for a repair order for both routine and emergency repairs that are unactioned. Slightly different processes apply, and our repair orders factsheet available on our website from the 1st of October will have more detailed information.
Host: That's interesting. So it's attached to the property more so than the tenant, that's excellent. So what else has been changed with regards to repairs?
Guest: OK, so in addition to the introduction of repair orders, there are three more changes around repairs from the 1st of October. So firstly, the owner or manager must provide contact details for a nominated repairer on the tenancy agreement. So this provides tenants with the first point of contact when an emergency repair is required.
Secondly, the value of emergency repairs that a tenant can arrange for will increase from the equivalent of two weeks’ rent to four weeks’ rent. So this occurs if a tenant can't contact the property owner or manager or the nominated repairer noted in the agreement, and need to arrange for an emergency repair themselves. So the tenant will then be able to seek reimbursement for the cost of those repairs from the owner or manager by showing a copy of the receipts, or they can request the property owner or manager to pay the repair out directly.
And thirdly, a property manager will also have the ability to authorise emergency repairs up to the equivalent of four weeks’ rent on behalf of an owner, and they can actually deduct this cost from the rent collected before dispersing funds to the owner.
Host: So Megan, are there any other changes coming on 1 October that we should be aware of?
Guest: Yeah there actually are. There's a change to the time frame for tenants to return their entry condition report at the start of a tenancy. So tenants will now have seven days to return their entry condition report instead of the three days that they have prior to the 1st of October. So this change will help ensure that the report is completed thoroughly as it gives tenants more time in what is a really busy time for them to complete the report.
Host: That is such a good idea, because it's so hard when you're starting a tenancy to get that done in time.
Now with the three changes taking effect from 1 October 2022—being ending tenancies, renting with pets and the introduction of repair orders—if listeners want to learn more, where can they find further information to help understand what the changes mean for them?
Guest: OK, so the RTA has a lot of resources available to ensure that everyone in Queensland’s rental sector understands what the changes do mean for them. So I definitely encourage everyone to visit the RTA’s website. We have a lot of dedicated information on the rental law changes on our website.
We have a four-part webinar series on the October 2022 rental law changes. There's also short videos, quick guides and frequently asked questions that explain the changes, and of course we have this podcast series on the on the changes. We've given you an overview of the changes today, and there will be three other podcasts coming up the delve deeper into each of those three key changes. And, of course, we're making preparations behind the scenes to ensure the information on our website and our forms are up to date and ready to go from the 1st of October.
So I definitely encourage everyone to check the website, download and use the latest version of our forms from the 1st of October 2022, for all things related to tenancies.
Host: There is so much information on our website, so if you head to rta.qld.gov.au you can find more there.
Thanks so much, Megan, for giving us an overview of the changes to Queensland tenancy laws taking effect from 1 October 2022.
Guest: Great. Thank you.
Host: Thank you for listening to the Talking Tenancies podcast. For more information about the Residential Tenancies Authority, visit rta.qld.gov.au.