If tenants and property owners haven’t been able to reach an agreement on a change in rent for tenants affected by the COVID-19 emergency, either party can apply to the RTA for impartial, free dispute resolution. RTA conciliators can help both parties reach an agreement, but they cannot make a decision.
The Queensland Government has announced that RTA conciliation will be mandatory for tenancy disputes relating to rent arrears caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Am I eligible for COVID-19 dispute resolution?
To see if you’re eligible, please complete this self-assessment checklist to make sure you’re eligible for the RTA’s dispute resolution process before applying.
A COVID-19 tenancy dispute may cover topics such as:
- rent arrears or rent reductions
- entry to the property, due to COVID-19 social isolation restrictions
- ending a tenancy early or extending the end date of an agreement, due to the tenant or the landlord’s circumstances being impacted by COVID-19.
How do I apply if I’m eligible?
We understand how difficult things are right now, so we’re prioritising tenancy disputes relating to COVID-19.
The fastest and easiest way to apply for conciliation is via the RTA’s COVID-19 Dispute Resolution Web Service. Please note you will need to upload your supporting evidence documents as you complete your online request form. This will ensure your request can be prioritised for processing.
If you cannot use the Web Service, you can also lodge a paper-based (Form 16a) COVID-19 Dispute resolution request and attach your supporting evidence documents by:
- scanning and emailing to: COVID@rta.qld.gov.au (file limit <5MB)
- posting to: RTA, GPO Box 390, Brisbane Qld 4001
What if my matter is not related to the impact of COVID-19?
You can still apply for RTA dispute resolution using our general dispute resolution request (Form 16). However, applications due to COVID-19-related issues will be prioritised.
If agreement can’t be reached, an application may be made to QCAT for a decision.
What evidence do I need to provide?
All parties can apply to the RTA for conciliation on a dispute relating to the COVID-19 emergency.
You will need to supply evidence that you and the other party have tried to self-resolve the dispute, or that you have made reasonable attempts to try to contact them to resolve the dispute. Examples would include copies of emails or screenshots of text messages between you and the other party.
If your dispute relates to financial hardship, you will need to provide evidence to support this. Examples would include:
- proof of loss of income due to COVID-19, such as an employment termination letter or evidence of reduced hours
- documents demonstrating your income support payments, or the steps you’ve taken towards getting income support, such as confirmation of a Centrelink application
- evidence that you have had to stop working (or substantially reduce work hours) due to contracting COVID-19, caring for a household or family member with the virus, or self-isolating because of health vulnerabilities.
If your dispute relates to entry to the property, you will need evidence to show why entry should or should not be allowed.
Examples would include:
- documents to support restrictions on entry due to health vulnerabilities of household members, such as a doctor’s certificate (tenants).
What happens at conciliation?
On the day your matter is heard, an RTA conciliator will contact you and your tenant to discuss the details of the dispute. Ensure you are prepared and have copies of your documentation with you for ease of reference.
During the COVID-19 pandemic period, this may be done by teleconference, or the officer might talk to each party separately.
It’s important to remember that the RTA conciliator does not make a decision about the case. It is up to you and your tenant to come to an agreement.
The conciliator will open the discussion and invite each party to make an initial statement. They’ll acknowledge the statements, identify issues, and encourage open discussion and exploration of options.
Following negotiation, when a decision is reached, the conciliator will inform all parties of the outcome and what to do next.
If you come to an agreement on a temporary change in rent due to your circumstances, you will need to complete a tenancy variation agreement, which is Form 18d (for general tenancies), Form 18f (for moveable dwellings) or Form 18e (for rooming accommodation) to document your agreement and related details. Make sure both parties sign it and keep it for your records.
If you can’t reach agreement, you’ll be issued with a Notice of Unresolved Dispute. If this happens, you can apply to QCAT for a decision. More information about the QCAT process will be provided with the Notice.