The Queensland Government introduced new laws for tenants and property owners affected by COVID-19 on 24 April 2020. The temporary changes are effective during the COVID-19 emergency, which at this stage lasts until 31 December 2020. The laws are designed to keep people safe and in their homes and to help protect property owners’ investments during the COVID-19 emergency.
Our role at the RTA is to administer the law, and to provide information and free support services to tenants, property owners and managers. We are impartial and independent and can help you understand your tenancy rights and obligations. We can also help you to negotiate an agreement through our free dispute resolution service.
Tenants, you should contact your property owner or manager as soon as possible if you are suffering excessive hardship because of COVID-19, which means you fulfil both criteria below.
You are impacted by COVID-19 in any of the following ways:
you or someone you care for suffers from COVID-19;
your place of employment, trade or business is closed or restricted by public health directions;
you are self-isolating because you are a vulnerable person, or live with or are a primary carer of a vulnerable person;
a travel restriction imposed by a public health direction or other law prevents them working or returning home, or
the COVID-19 emergency has prevented you from leaving or returning to Australia.
Your income has fallen by more than 25% or your rent is more than 30% of your household income because of COVID-19.
You will need to show evidence to your property owner or manager that demonstrates you meet the two criteria above for suffering excessive hardship due to COVID-19. You can find a list of recommended evidence on pages 19 and 20 of the Residential Tenancies Practice Guide. However, it is up to all parties to determine what documents they are comfortable sharing with each other to demonstrate their change in circumstances.
Step 2 – Try to Reach an Agreement
Tenants, property owners and property managers should try to work together to negotiate any changes to a rental agreement first.
If you can’t reach an agreement with your tenant or property owner, you may be eligible for free COVID-19 dispute resolution (also known as conciliation) with the RTA.
An experienced and independent RTA conciliator can help tenants and property owners and managers to work together to reach an agreement. The RTA does not make the decision. The people involved in the tenancy do.
If you’ve completed the self-assessment checklist and you are eligible, you will need to apply for COVID-19 Dispute resolution. Completing this online will ensure you get the fastest response. You will also need to submit evidence of your hardship at the time of making your request to ensure your request can be prioritised for processing. Or you can email or post a printed COVID-19 Dispute resolution request form (Form 16a). If you need help, read our FAQs or call us on 1300 366 311 from 8.30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
The RTA will confirm your dispute resolution request as soon as possible, and will then arrange a date and time for the conciliation to occur either via a teleconference or shuttle.
Step 5 - Prepare for Conciliation
You’ll need to be prepared and have copies of the evidence you provided at the time of making your COVID-19 Dispute resolution request. Bring evidence of your loss of income such as an employment separation certificate, Centrelink documents, a letter from your employer or a notice showing you’ve been ‘stood down’, previous pay slips or other documentation showing evidence of reduced hours.
Step 6 – At Conciliation
The RTA conciliator will open the discussion and invite each party to make an initial statement. They’ll acknowledge the statements, identify issues, encourage open discussion and explore the options.
When a decision is reached you will write a formal change to your rental agreement.
Step 7 – Go to QCAT if a resolution isn’t reached.
If you can’t reach agreement, you will be issued with a Notice of Unresolved Dispute and you will need to apply to QCAT for a formal decision.