QDN Member eBlast: Renting in Queensland

QDN welcomes the Queensland Government’s package of tenancy reforms announced on Saturday 16 November, 2019.  QDN believes these reforms will go a long way to allowing renting Queensland households to make their house their home, particularly people who need to make minor modifications to their rental property to ensure it is accessible. QDN is in the process of analysing what these proposed reforms mean for people with disability who are renting and will be preparing a submission.

Background

The Queensland Government is reviewing Queensland’s tenancy laws to ensure the rental needs of Queenslanders are met now and in the future. Previously the Queensland Government undertook the Open Doors to Rental Reform Consultation. Now they have developed a Consultation Regulatory Impact Statement  that identifies policy options to change Queensland’s tenancy laws and the impacts of each option.

Priority Areas

Queensland government has examined the costs and benefits of the options, and identified recommended reforms. 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, Queensland Government is recommending a set of Minimum Housing Standards is introduced.

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

There are also recommended 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
  • prescribed timeframes for Minimum Housing Standards repairs.

2. Renting with pets

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. Queensland government aims 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.

3. Minor modifications

Some tenants may 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.

Queensland Government wants 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. A list of proposed minor modifications that would not need approval from the property owner or would allow fast-tracked approval is being recommended. 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

4. Domestic and Family Violence

Everyone has the right to feel safe and to live their life free of violence, abuse or intimidation. It is proposed tenancy laws be strengthened to include additional protections that help tenants experiencing domestic and family violence to stay or leave their current rental property safely. Changes are being recommended 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.

5. Ending a tenancy fairly

Both tenants and owners benefit from certainty about how and when a tenancy will end. It is important to ensure that tenants and owners can end tenancies fairly.

Under the 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.

How to have your say

QDN is preparing a submission to this review and is interested in hearing from members who rent their homes with experience in the 5 areas listed above, particularly Minor Modifications.  Please email kswift@qdn.org.au or call QDN on 1300 363 783 to share your views by 16 December, 2019.

QDN also encourages members to have your say on the options put forward in the Regulatory Impact Statement by answering short online surveys or completing a written submission via the link below. Responses are due by 28 December, 2019.

Important links

Leave a Comment