New Rental Laws QLD – October 1, 2022

New laws for Queensland tenants are due to take effect from October 1, 2022, with stage one of Queensland’s Housing Legislation Amendment Act 2021 aiming to regulate rented properties across Queensland with the primary goal of improving tenants safety and security.

The reforms will affect the way a body corporate deals with maintenance and by-law issues adding challenges for lot owners.

The new rules will require landlords to meet minimum housing standards in key areas such as mould and security. Additionally, the reforms make it easier for tenants to keep pets and give more options for them to end tenancies early.

As landlords seek to adjust to these changes, bodies corporate will also need to factor in how the new tenancy laws will affect their strata community.

In this article we examine the major changes that will affect bodies corporate.

Minimum Housing Standards

Strengthened repair and maintenance obligations will commence from 1 October 2022.

From October 1, prescribed minimum housing standards require:

  • The premises to be weatherproof and structurally sound.
  • Fixtures and fittings to be in good repair and not likely to cause injury to a person.
  • Locks on windows and doors.
  • The premises to be free of vermin, damp and mould.
  • Privacy coverings.
  • Adequate plumbing and drainage.
  • Functioning kitchen and laundry facilities (where supplied).

 

New tenants will have 7 days to complete and return the entry condition report after moving in and tenants and property managers can authorise emergency repairs up to the equivalent of 4 weeks’ rent.

While all occupants are entitled to decent living conditions, the new minimum standards, are likely to open up areas of dispute in body corporates as landlords undertake repairs and maintenance to meet them.

A great example is the requirement for “the premises to be free of vermin, damp and mould.” Again, no one would dispute this is a reasonable minimum standard, but within strata is can often be quite complicated over who is responsible for addressing these issues. Is it an owner or body corporate responsibility? Well it depends, but with laws empowering tenants and landlords legally obliged to meet new standards, expect these disputes to be increasingly common with some that will require an adjudicator

Bodies corporate should factor in how they will manage these changes to minimise disputes (and subsequent costs!)

Click here to find our more information on who is responsible for maintenance in your body corporate.

Ending Tenancies

Changes under the ending tenancies fairly reforms include:

  • removal of ‘without grounds’ as a reason to end a tenancy
  • new grounds for property owners to end tenancies, including the end of a fixed-term agreement, need to undertake significant repair or renovation, change of use or sale or preparation for sale of the rental property requires vacant possession
  • new grounds for renters to end tenancies, including the property is not in good repair, or does not comply with the Minimum Housing Standards.

 

The most important reform for bodies corporate to consider is “new grounds for renters to end tenancies, including the property is not in good repair, or does not comply with the Minimum Housing Standards.”

A common scenario following a disaster (like this year’s floods) where a unit’s habitableness has been severely impacted. It can take significant time for repairs to be arranged and insurance claims to be processed. Even if the body corporate is not at fault and is doing everything in its power to resolve issues this could still result in a tenant’s property being “not in good repair, or does not comply with the Minimum Housing Standards” subsequently giving them the ability to end their tenancy agreement early.

If a tenant leaves a property because of a delayed repairs that the body corporate is responsible for, this could set the grounds for increased disputes. In many schemes, it may be necessary to increase costs for maintenance and resolution and to evaluate how owners/tenants can participate more to assist with decision making to get these types of issues fixed.

Pets

From October, a landlord can only refuse permission for a tenant to keep a pet on ‘reasonable’ grounds.

This reflects the current QLD position on pet ownership in a body corporate where previously arbitrary restrictions (such as weight limits) have been deemed to be invalid.

It is now considered standard that an owner is allowed to have at least one suitable pet at their strata property. Until now many rental properties had a blanket ban on keeping pets which traditionally greatly restricted the amount of animals kept in body corporate schemes.

Body corporates should now expect to see more applications and more pets in their buildings, especially in larger buildings and communities with a high percentage of rental occupants.

While pets are increasingly seen as acceptable in apartment living environments they can present challenges  with noise, mess, damage etc. As the number of pets increases, so too will the volume of problems and complaints.

To manage this change, bodies corporate should look at better-defining and strengthening their by-laws on keeping of pets that unambiguously set out what pet owners can and can’t do with their animals.

Read more about the Housing Legislation Amendment Act 2021. 

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