Recently the Queensland Parliament passed rental reforms that every tenant and property owner should be aware of; with the industry’s leading professional body, the Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ), saying that although they are an improvement on what the government initially proposed, the pendulum still firmly swings in favour of tenants and reduces property owners’ contractual rights.
In summary the main five provisions of the Housing Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 are outlined below:
Domestic and Family Violence: these protections were created after the onset of the pandemic and the bill seeks to provide enduring protection for those tenants experiencing domestic and family violence to bypass the usual requirements and financial obligations associated with terminating a lease. Victims will be able to terminate a tenancy agreement with only seven days’ notice.
Keeping of Pets: the new legislation effectively eliminates a property owner’s right to have a ‘no pets’ policy. The tenant will STILL need to ask for approval to keep a pet, and the landlord will still have the right to say no, but only on the basis of certain prescribed grounds.
To mitigate the tension between pet owners and landlords, the government has introduced two key changes. The first is that pet damage has been excluded from the definition of fair wear and tear. This means property owners will be able to seek compensation for damage that is caused by pets. The second change is that the owner can now impose conditions in the approval of a pet. Violating these conditions could potentially be a breach of the general tenancy agreement.
Termination: this bill ensures the preservation of the property owner’s rights to end a tenancy after the culmination of a fixed term agreement. Whilst the lessor does not have the ability to end a tenancy without grounds, new grounds for termination include the owner wanting to sell the property or move back in themselves (or move family members back in) – once the fixed tenancy has come to an end.
Periodic Tenancies: property owners have lost the right to end a periodic tenancy by providing notice. Tenants, however; will retain this right. Unless owners can establish limited prescribed grounds, for example, the sale of the property, they will be unable to terminate a periodic tenancy. The REIQ believes this will absolutely lead to the demise of periodic tenancies in Queensland, which could also detrimentally impact tenants seeking flexibility of tenure and preferring not to commit to a fixed term tenancy.
Minimum Housing Standards: This is a major provision, set to come into effect by September 2023. It involves some basic standards that must be met in order to allow a residential property to be rented in Queensland. This is a move welcomed by the REIQ, and ensures the property needs to be in good working, inhabitable order to be rented out.