Minimum housing standards now apply for new and renewed tenancies in Queensland.
Minimum housing standards aim to ensure all rental properties are safe, secure and reasonably functional. The new standards complement existing legislation, which states that a property must be fit to live in, be in good repair and comply with health and safety laws.
From 1 September 2023, if a general tenancy, moveable dwelling or rooming accommodation agreement is signed or renewed, the property must meet minimum housing standards.
Minimum housing standards will come into effect for all remaining tenancies on 1 September 2024.
What are minimum housing standards?
Minimum housing standards specify that Queensland residential rental properties must:
- be weatherproof and structurally sound
- be in good repair, with fixtures and fittings (such as electrical appliances) that are not likely to cause injury through normal use
- have functioning locks or latches on all external doors and windows that can be reached without a ladder
- be free from vermin, damp and mould (this does not include cases where the vermin, damp or mould has been caused by the tenant)
- include curtains or other window coverings, which provide privacy in rooms where the tenant might reasonably expect it, such as bedrooms
- have adequate plumbing and drainage and be connected to hot and cold water that is suitable for drinking
- provide privacy in bathroom areas and have flushable toilets connected to a sewer, septic tank or other waste disposal system
- have a functioning cook-top, if a kitchen is provided include the necessary fixtures for a functional laundry, such as tap fixtures and adequate plumbing, if laundry facilities are provided. The laundry does not have to include a washing machine or other white goods, as these may be provided by the tenant.
Options when a property does not meet minimum housing standards
The property manager/owner is responsible for ensuring the premises and inclusions comply with prescribed minimum housing standards at the start and throughout the tenancy.
Tenants are responsible for contacting the property manager/owner as soon as they become aware of any repairs that need to be made to the rental property.
Tenants have a range of options if they believe the rental property they live in does not meet minimum housing standards:
- Option 1: Tenant moves out of the property within the first seven days of occupancy.
- Option 2: Tenant applies for a QCAT termination order on the grounds of misrepresentation within the first three months of occupancy.
- Option 3: Tenant requests emergency repairs to the property.
- Option 4: Tenant makes an urgent application to QCAT for a repair order.
- Option 5: Tenant applies for free RTA dispute resolution about making repairs
If the actions of a tenant cause the property to fail to meet minimum housing standards
Throughout the tenancy, the tenant is responsible for keeping the rental property clean and not intentionally damaging the property. If the rental property fails to meet minimum housing standards because of issues caused by the actions of a tenant, the property manager/owner can issue the tenant with a Notice to remedy breach (Form 11) and the tenant may have to pay for the repairs.
What does weatherproof and structurally sound mean?
Weatherproof means the roofing or windows must prevent water from entering the premises when it rains. Structurally sound means the building must be safe for the tenant to live in. The walls, ceiling and roof must be in good condition. They must not be likely to collapse or be affected by significant dampness. Decks and stairs must also be safe and not affected by rot or defects.
Will every room in the rental property need to have a blind, curtain or other privacy covering to meet minimum housing standards?
Privacy coverings must be provided in rooms where the tenant might reasonably expect it, such as in bedrooms. Privacy coverings can include blinds, curtains, tinted windows, and glass frosting. Privacy coverings are not required for windows which are blocked from outside view by a fence, hedge, tree or other feature of the property.
Who is responsible for mould, damp or vermin during a tenancy?
If mould, damp or vermin appears in a rental property during the tenancy, the tenant should notify the property manager/owner as soon as they are aware of the issue.
If the issue is caused by problems with the structure of the property, the property manager/owner is responsible for fixing it and making any necessary repairs. Examples could include mould caused by a leaking roof or a termite infestation in the walls. The property manager/owner is also responsible for fixing any issues that are caused by reasonable use of the property. Examples would include a leaking shower which cannot be turned off or a stove top that does not work.
If the issue is caused by the actions of the tenant, the tenant is responsible for any necessary repairs. Examples could include mould caused by the tenant allowing steam to build up in a bathroom and not properly ventilating or cleaning the area, or a vermin problem which may have been caused because the actions of the tenant attracted the animals to the property.
Reminder: other recent changes to Queensland rental laws
Changes around pets, repair orders and ending a tenancy came into effect from 1 October 2022.
Changes to limit rent increases to once every 12 months came into effect for all new and existing tenancies on 1 July 2023.
If you have any questions about how these changes may impact your tenancy rights and responsibilities, please talk to you property manager and/or visit rta.qld.gov.au.