Residential Tenancies in Queensland
If you have ever rented a home in Queensland, you have probably wondered about the law relating to residential tenancies in Queensland. There are certain rights and obligations that a tenant has under Queensland law that it is important to be aware of if you are a tenant or a landlord. This article considers what rights tenants have in Queensland at the beginning, during and the end of a residential tenancy agreement. These agreements are also sometimes referred to as residential leases.
What is the law on residential tenancies in Queensland?
The legislation which covers renting in Queensland is called the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008. The Residential Tenancies Authority is the body that administers the law for renters in Queensland.
In most situations, the landlord must provide the tenant with a written agreement. These landlord/tenancy agreements must comply with the Act. Most commonly they are written in a standard form, the most common form being a General tenancy agreement form 18a.
Entering into residential tenancies in Queensland
When a landlord and a tenant enter into a residential tenancy agreement, they are required to complete a condition report and the tenant is required to pay a bond to the landlord.
At the beginning of a lease or tenancy a condition report that must be completed by both parties. This describes in detail the condition of the property at the beginning of the lease. At the end of the lease, the condition report can be used to determine what, if any, damage has been done to the property. If damage has been done to the property during the lease then the tenant, will be liable to pay for appropriate repairs to be completed on the property. However, the tenant is not liable to pay for damage that is a result of general wear and tear.
The tenant will need to pay a bond at the beginning of their tenancy, and this bond is to be lodged with the Residential Tenancies Authority, which holds it for the term of the lease.
Condition of the property upon entry
Its the landlord’s duty to ensure the property is clean and in good repair when the tenant moves in.
Responsibilities during residential tenancies in Queensland
The landlord and the tenant have responsibilities that they must exercise during the term of the lease.
Repairs and maintenance
During the term of a tenancy agreement or lease, it is the landlord’s responsibility to make sure the premises are reasonably secure and to carry out repairs and general maintenance as required. A tenant may request the landlord arrange for repairs and maintenance to be carried out. This can be done orally or in writing. However, it is a good idea to make requests in writing and keep a copy in case any dispute arises over repairs.
Once a request has been made, the landlord must make the repairs within a reasonable time.
If this does not occur, formal notice can be given that the landlord is in breach of their obligations using a Notice to Remedy Breach form.
If the landlord still does not remedy the breach and the issue of the repairs is becoming difficult to resolve, a tenant may seek assistance from the Residential Tenancy Authority’s Dispute Resolution Service.
If dispute resolution does not resolve the issue, a tenant can apply to have the matter heard by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal. There are also some instances where a person can apply directly to the Tribunal to have the matter heard without first going through the dispute resolution process. The Act also allows for situations where emergency repairs need to be completed and the procedure that must be followed for carrying these out yourself without the input of the landlord.
It is your responsibility as a tenant to repair the property where damage has been done. However, a tenant is not required to repair the damage that is done as general wear and tear to the premises.
Rights relating to inspections
Another common issue that arises during the term of a residential lease relates to the landlord’s right to enter a property.
A tenant has a right to the ‘quiet enjoyment’ of your home. If a landlord wishes to enter the tenant’s home, they must have a lawful reason to do so. They must also give the tenant written notice of their intention and the required notice period.
What if the landlord wants to end the tenancy?
A landlord can provide you with a Notice to Leave towards the end of a fixed-term tenancy or at any time during a periodic tenancy agreement (otherwise known as a month to month tenancy agreement). This must provide the tenant with the amount of notice required under the tenancy agreement and the date upon which the tenancy agreement is to end. The landlord can also provide a tenant with a Notice to Leave if they have breached the tenancy agreement. In this case, the Notice to Leave must also state upon what grounds the Notice to Leave is issued. In some cases, a landlord can apply directly to the Tribunal to have the tenancy terminated. If this happens, the Tribunal will send the tenant a notice with a hearing date. You should attend this hearing so that you can respond to the application made by the landlord.
What if the tenant wants to end the tenancy?
A tenant can end a tenancy agreement at the end of a fixed-term tenancy or at any time during a periodic tenancy by giving the landlord notice.
If the landlord has breached the tenancy agreement and has failed to remedy this breach, the tenant may want to leave. In this case, in their notice to the landlord they can set out under what grounds they intend to end the tenancy agreement. In certain circumstances a tenant may also apply to the Tribunal for a hearing requesting an order to terminate the lease.
In some circumstances, a tenant may want to “break the lease”. This means ending the lease without grounds and before the end of a fixed-term agreement. In this situation, a tenant may be required to pay the landlord compensation. This may include paying rent until a new tenant is found, paying the costs of advertising to find a new tenant and a re-letting fee. In these circumstances, the landlord must do their best to minimize the loss they suffer as a result of the tenant breaking the lease.
Mutual end of a tenancy agreement
A tenant and the landlord can agree at any time to terminate the agreement by way of mutual agreement.
Evicting a tenant
In circumstances where a tenant has been issued with a Notice to Leave but does not leave on or before the date it stipulates, then the landlord may apply to the Tribunal to make a termination order. If the Tribunal makes a termination order it will also issue a Warrant of Possession. Police can attend the premises and force the tenant to leave in accordance with this warrant. The landlord must not attend the premises and attempt to evict the tenant themselves.
Disputes following the end of a tenancy agreement
Sometimes at the end of a tenancy agreement there are disputes about what amount of the bond should be returned to the tenant. It is a good idea to, at first, try to resolve these disputes directly with the landlord. If this is unsuccessful, you can apply to have the Residential Tenancies Authority assist in resolving the dispute through its dispute resolution service or you can apply to the Tribunal to have your dispute heard. The Residential Tenancies Authority will continue to hold the bond until the dispute is resolved.
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.