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 request to the RTA for impartial, free dispute resolution.
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.
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?
If you’re applying to the RTA for conciliation on a dispute relating to COVID-19, please make sure you have evidence ready to support your request.
The information will only be seen by the conciliator – it won’t be passed on to the other party.
Evidence to support your claim could include:
- a copy of your employment separation letter
- a letter from your employer noting reduced hours or saying you’ve been stood down, or other evidence of reduced hours
- evidence that you’ve had to stop working or substantially reduce work hours due to illness with COVID-19, or to care for a household or family member with COVID-19, or have had to self-isolate due to health vulnerabilities
- confirmation you’ve registered with Centrelink for income support
- a doctor’s certificate to support restrictions on entry due to vulnerability or health concerns of household members.
Ultimately, you need to determine what level of detail you are comfortable providing to demonstrate your COVID-19 related hardship. However, there are penalties for providing false or misleading information about COVID-19 related hardship.
What happens at conciliation?
On the day your matter is heard, an RTA conciliator will contact you to discuss the details of the dispute.
During the COVID-19 pandemic period, this may be done by teleconference with the property owner or manager also on the call, or the officer might talk to you and the other party separately.
In the run up to the day, it’s a good idea to compile any additional documents or evidence which may be required.
It’s important to remember that the RTA conciliator does not make a decision about your case. It is up to you and your property owner or manager, 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.