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Queensland Government's Proposed Tenancy Law Reforms

November 2019 | Source: Queensland Government

In 2018, the statewide Open Doors to Renting Reform community consultation invited Queenslanders to share their rental experiences and ideas about how to improve renting in Queensland.


We received over 135,000 responses and had conversations with tenants, property owners and property managers about their experience of living in, owning or managing a rental property and how it could be improved.
 

Consultation outcomes


We heard clearly that renting is an important issue for Queenslanders and there is support for change to our tenancy laws.

We heard that all Queenslanders want to feel safe and secure in the rental market, either as a tenant enjoying the property as their own home, or as an owner protecting the property as their investment.

However, different views were held about what reforms are needed to strike the right balance between these interests.

The Consultation Regulatory Impact Statement (PDF, 2.88 MB) identifies policy options to change Queensland’s tenancy laws. We’ve also examined the costs and benefits of the options, and identified recommended reforms as a result of this analysis.

The options for reform are divided into 5 priority areas.
 

1. Minimum Housing Standards

To ensure Queensland tenants have access to safe, secure and sustainable housing, we are recommending a set of Minimum Housing Standards is introduced.


Proposed changes

Under the proposal, all rental properties in Queensland would need to meet certain standards addressing:

• ​weatherproofing and structural soundness
• ​plumbing and drainage
• ​security
• ​the standard of repair of fixtures and fittings
• ​control of pests and vermin
• ​ventilation, lighting and privacy
• ​cooking and food preparation facilities


We are also recommending changes to ensure that property owners and managers comply with the Minimum Housing Standards and basic requirements for repairs and maintenance. These include:
 

• ​enhanced QCAT repair orders
• ​an increase in the time allowed for a tenant to return a condition report
• ​a requirement for property owners to provide key contact details for emergency repairs
• ​an increase in the value of emergency repairs that can be authorised by a tenant
• ​a new authority for property managers to approve emergency repairs, if the owner is unavailable.


Read more about Minimum Housing Standards in the Consultation Regulatory Impact Statement (PDF, 685 KB).

 

2. Renting with pets

Pets are an important part of life for many Queenslanders, who often view their pets as part of the family. Nearly 6 in 10 Queensland households currently keep a pet. However, there is evidence that only a small proportion of rental properties in Queensland are pet‑friendly.


Proposed changes

We want to improve access for tenants to rental properties that allow pets, while ensuring there are effective safeguards for property owners.

The proposed reforms would:

• ​require an owner to have reasonable grounds for refusing a tenant's request to keep a pet
• ​define reasonable grounds for an owner to refuse
• ​allow property owners to seek a Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) order to exclude pets from a property for valid reasons
• ​allow ‘pet bonds’ to be paid to cover the cost of pest control at the end of the tenancy

These changes to the law would be supported by educational and informational measures to help tenants, property owners and property managers to communicate about requests to keep pets.

Read more about renting with pets in the Consultation Regulatory Impact Statement (PDF, 554 KB).
 

3. Minor modifications

The liveability of a home contributes to its residents wellbeing.

Some tenants may also have circumstances that mean changes need to be made to their rental property. These include:

• ​people who need accessibility modifications to their accommodation, whether due to age, injury, illness or other circumstances
• ​people with disabilities
• ​families with young children
• ​people experiencing domestic and family violence.


Proposed changes

We want to improve the ability of tenants to alter their rented homes to meet their needs while providing safeguards for property owners to protect their investment.

We are recommending establishing a list of proposed minor modifications that would not need approval from the property owner or would allow fast-tracked approval.

Minor modifications requiring no approval would include:

• ​health and safety modifications
• ​accessibility modifications
• ​security modifications
• ​modifications to provide access to basic telecommunications

Minor modifications with a fast-tracked (7 day) approval process would include:

• ​minor modifications to personalise or improve the amenity of the premises
• ​minor energy and water efficiency modifications
• ​connection of non-essential communications services

Read more about minor modifications in the Consultation Regulatory Impact Statement (PDF, 455 KB).

 

4. Ending tenancies fairly

Both tenants and owners benefit from certainty about how and when a tenancy will end. It helps tenants to plan their future housing needs. It also gives owners income security and allows them to plan for new tenants.

We want to ensure that tenants and owners can end tenancies fairly.


Proposed changes

We’ve identified reforms to achieve these objectives. Under our recommended changes:

• ​owners would no longer be able to end a tenancy without a valid reason
• ​the list of reasons that an owner can provide would be extended and enhanced
• ​tenants would also have additional grounds to end a tenancy.

Read more about Ending tenancies fairly in the Consultation Regulatory Impact Statement (PDF, 619 KB).

 

5. Domestic and Family Violence

Everyone has the right to feel safe and to live their life free of violence, abuse or intimidation. The Queensland Government is committed to reducing the rate of domestic and family violence and is progressing the recommendations of the Not Now, Not Ever: Putting an End to Domestic and Family Violence in Queensland report(External link).


Proposed changes

We want to strengthen tenancy laws to include additional protections that help tenants experiencing domestic and family violence to stay or leave their current rental property safely.

We are recommending changes to ensure that tenants experiencing domestic and family violence can end a tenancy without the usual notice requirements and can easily access rental bond funds.

Read more about the proposed additional protections for people experiencing domestic and family violence in the Consultation Regulatory Impact Statement (PDF, 418 KB).

 

Have Your Say

We want to know your views about the options and how they may affect you.

You can have your say on one, some or all of the options put forward in the Regulatory Impact Statement. Your feedback on the Consultation Regulatory Impact Statement will inform future policy decisions made by the Government to ensure we get tenancy law reforms right.

Submissions close 5pm AEST, 28 December 2019.

CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT YOUR FEEDBACK ON THE PROPOSED REFORMS.