New rental laws have started in Queensland with the goal of helping tenants and landlords deal with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
Tenants who can’t pay their rent due to the coronavirus crisis are now protected from eviction.
Failure to pay rent will no longer be a valid reason to evict a tenant and if a tenant is experiencing hardship because of the virus, the landlord will have to extend their lease until the end of the COVID-19 emergency period if it would otherwise end.
Landlords and tenants must enter into negotiations if a tenant claims hardship before any further action can be taken.
Inspections and access to a rental property will also be limited during the crisis.
HERE’S WHAT THE GUIDELINES SAY
● A tenant is considered impacted by COVID-19 if they have it, care for someone who has it or are subject to a quarantine direction and suffer a loss of income of 25 per cent or more, or rent payable is 30% or more of their income.
● Tenants are required to provide upon request documents to show they are impacted by COVID-19, which include proof of job termination/stand down, government income support, a medical certificate and prior income.
● Tenants and landlords are encouraged to agree on solutions together and if they can’t, they must use the Residential Tenancy Authority’s conciliation service.
● It will be mandatory to go to conciliation for rent variation, ending agreements or gaining entry to properties for repairs and maintenance.
● If conciliation is unsuccessful, they can go to the Queensland Civil Administrative Tribunal (QCAT). In the interim, the tenant must keep paying the required rent or “as much as they can afford”.
● The tenant must notify the property owner is there is a change in circumstance, regardless of whether there is an increase or a decrease in the total household income.
● If a property owner is reliant on rental income to meet essential costs of living, they should raise the concerns during conciliation with their tenants and the owner may have to provide evidence to support their position.
● Landlords and tenants should discuss the duration the new rent amount applies for and when it will be reviewed.
● The tenant can ask the lessor for the rent amount to be reviewed at any time during the agreed variation to rent if the household’s circumstances change.
● The owner must give two months’ notice to sell the home, or if they or immediate family need to move in.
● Tenants experiencing domestic and family violence can end their tenancy agreement with seven days’ notice.