Queensland rental law changes start October 1, making it harder to deny pets, terminate leases

New housing laws set to come into effect later this year will make it harder for Queensland landlords to ban pets in rental properties.

A landlord could decline a tenant’s request for a pet for no specific reason, but come October 1 that would change.

The laws had been criticised by tenants for years and Real Estate Institute of Queensland’s CEO Antonia Mercorella said the incoming reforms were “very much focused on tenant protection and giving the tenants greater rights”.

Changes contained in the Housing Legislation Amendment Bill were being rolled out in three stages.

The first stage, already in effect, gave victims of domestic violence easier pathways to end tenancies and get their bond back.

From October 1, new rules around pets and terminating tenancies would come into place.

According to Ms Mercorella, the changes would mean a tenant would still have to seek consent for a pet, but the lessor would no longer just be allowed to refuse and could not advertise properties with a no-pet caveat.

No response would indicate approval.

“But until the first of October, owners can continue to say no and don’t have to give a reason,” Ms Mercorella said.

In good news for landlords allowing pets, “pet damage” would be excluded from general wear and tear, said Ms Mercorella.

“So at the end of a tenancy a tenant has to give the premises back in the same condition that the premises was in at the outset of the tenancy,” she said.

“I do think that that is something that gives the lessor some greater protection.”

Other tenancy agreement changes

The grounds on which a tenant or landlord could terminate a lease would also change.

A property owner would no longer be able to end a tenancy without providing a reason that met certain criteria, and even still, the tenancy still couldn’t end before the original agreed date.

“So if the lessor or an immediate family member wished to move into the property, that can’t end a fixed term tenancy before it’s due to end, in any event,” Ms Mercorella said.

“You still have to give two months’ notice. I think there’s been some misconceptions around that.”

Ms Mercorella said the reforms would also make “detrimental” changes to periodic tendencies, so much so she felt they would effectively be brought to an end.

She said the changes would mean a landlord could not end a periodic tenancy without meeting one of the prescribed grounds,  and so could potentially be in the position of “having a tenant for life” unless they chose to end it.

But this could be a negative for tenants seeking a periodic lease for reasons like a possible change in job or finalising their next property and needing a slight extension in lease, Ms Mercorella said.

The third phase of reforms wouldn’t come into effect until September 2023 and related to minimum housing standards a property must meet in terms of its structural nature, having working facilities, security and privacy features.

Help on hand to resolve disputes

Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA) chief financial officer Joanna Van Der Merwe said the reforms were necessary and removed grey areas in the current laws.

“It’s helping [everyone] to understand what they need to do in the situations with renting, and with pets, and removing any remaining ambiguity,” she said.

Ms Van Der Merwe said landlords or renters experiencing issues were encouraged to discuss the matter first and try to reach an agreement before contacting the RTA.

“We provide that free dispute resolution service,” she said.

“And then if that’s not possible the next step is to go to QCAT as well, or they can go straight there if they would prefer.”

Ms Van Der Merwe said three quarters of disputes that came to the RTA were able to be resolved before going to court.


Article source: www.abc.net.au