Last updated 16 August 2016
The lessor has certain obligations under ch 3 of the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 (Qld) (RTRA Act). These are to ensure that:
- there are no legal impediments to the tenant occupying the premises
- the tenant has vacant possession on the commencement date of the tenancy
- reasonable steps are taken to ensure the tenant has quiet enjoyment of the premises and not to interfere with the tenant’s peace, comfort and privacy
- the premises are of a fit standard for living
- the premises and inclusions are clean at the start of the tenancy
- the premises and inclusions are in good repair (both at the start and during the tenancy), and that the premises comply with all applicable health and safety laws
- locks and keys necessary to reasonably secure the premises are supplied and maintained (s 210).
What is reasonable may be dependent upon things such as the crime rate and what an insurance company would require in order to insure the property for contents.
A provider of rooming accommodation has similar obligations (ch 4 RTRA Act). However, a provider also has to:
- take reasonable steps to ensure the resident has access to their room, bathroom, toilet facilities and common areas
- not unreasonably restrict the resident’s guests in visiting the resident
- ensure that the times during which the provider can be contacted by the resident are reasonable.
The tenant’s obligations under the RTRA Act are:
- to complete the entry condition report supplied to them by the lessor
- to pay the rent on time and in the manner prescribed by the agreement
- to report any damage to the lessor
- to use the premises mainly as a residence
- not to use the premises for an illegal purpose
- not to cause nuisance or to interfere with the reasonable peace, comfort or privacy of neighbours
- to keep the premises and inclusions clean, having regard to their condition at the start of the tenancy
- not to maliciously damage the premises or inclusions, or allow someone else to do so.
At the end of the tenancy, the tenant must:
- leave the premises and inclusions, as far as possible, in the same condition they were in at the start of the tenancy, fair wear and tear excepted
- hand all keys back
- remove all their belongings from the premises
- prepare and complete an exit condition report and provide a copy to the lessor
- if requested in writing, provide details of their new residential address, unless the tenant has a reasonable excuse (s 205).
Residents must comply with s 253 of the RTRA Act, which requires residents to:
- use their room and common areas as a place of residence
- not use their room for illegal purposes
- not interfere with the reasonable peace, comfort or privacy of another resident
- pay rent when due
- not keep an animal on the premises without permission
- not intentionally or recklessly damage or destroy the premises or allow someone else to do so
- keep their room and inclusions clean, having regard to their condition at the start of the tenancy
- maintain their room in a condition that does not give rise to a fire or health hazard
- leave the premises at the end of the agreement in the same condition they were in at the start of the agreement, fair wear and tear excepted.
The emergency repair provisions of the RTRA Act (ss 214–221) only apply to residential tenancies.
Emergency repairs are defined in s 214 of the RTRA Act and include broken hot water systems or stoves, or a burst water pipe. In the case of emergency repairs, the tenant must contact the lessor or the lessor’s nominated repairer and give them notice of the need for repair. In general, a tenant of a residential tenancy or a long tenancy of a moveable dwelling can arrange for the emergency repairs to be done, and either get the repairer to bill the lessor directly or pay the cost and seek reimbursement from the lessor (to a maximum value of two weeks rent), if neither the lessor or their nominated repairer can be contacted or they do not take action within a reasonable time (this is subject to the nature of the repair). Ideally, the tenant should get two or three quotes first. The tenant must give a copy of the invoice or receipt to the lessor who must reimburse the tenant or pay the invoice within seven days. If the lessor does not do so, the tenant may directly apply to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) for an order regarding the issue (without going through the Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA) conciliation process). Tenants cannot withhold rent if the lessor fails to reimburse them on request.
Tenants/residents must notify the lessor/provider of the need for routine repairs. Tenants/residents may give a notice to remedy breach (Form 11 for residential tenancies and Form R11 for rooming accommodation) to give the lessor/provider some time to carry out the repairs.
In residential tenancies, the minimum remedy period for a repair breach is seven days. In rooming accommodation, this period is five days. If the repairs are not carried out within the remedy period on the breach notice, the tenant/resident can then send a dispute resolution request to the RTA for conciliation.
If the RTA cannot facilitate an agreement between the parties, the tenant/resident can apply to QCAT for an order about the matter. In residential tenancies, tenants can terminate agreements for an unremedied breach, however, QCAT needs to be satisfied that the tenant took steps to have the repair attended to, and the issue was serious enough to warrant termination.
In residential tenancies, if the lessor has failed to act on a notice to remedy breach for their maintenance obligations under ss 185(3) or 186(4) of the RTRA Act, and the issue affects the health and safety of tenants or other persons, the tenant can make a direct application to QCAT for an order (without going through the RTA conciliation process) (s 191 RTRA Act). There are no equivalent provisions for rooming accommodation.
Tenants/residents can install fixtures or make alterations with the written and informed consent of the lessor/provider (ss 207, 254 RTRA Act). This should state if the fixture is permanent and whether the tenant/resident is responsible for restoring any damage caused by a fixture’s removal. If consent for a fixture is unreasonably withheld, tenants/residents can apply to the RTA for conciliation and/or to QCAT. Fixtures or alterations made without consent may be a breach of the agreement.
Lessors and providers have a right of entry to the premises for certain purposes and circumstances described in the RTRA Act (ss 192–202 for residential tenancies and ss 257–265 for rooming accommodation).
Unless a tenant/resident otherwise agrees, an approved entry notice (Form 9 for residential tenancies and Form R9 for rooming accommodation) must be given for each entry. Entry without consent and without notice may occur if:
- in residential tenancies—there is a genuine emergency, or the lessor reasonably believes that the entry is necessary to protect the premises from damage
- in rooming accommodation—there is a genuine emergency, urgent repairs need to be carried out or the provider reasonably believes the resident has abandoned the room.
- use a photo of a rental property in an advertisement, if the photo shows something belonging to the tenant
- conduct an auction or open house.
Sale or transfer
In residential tenancies, a lessor must issue a notice of intention to sell prior to entering and showing prospective purchasers through the rental property. Where a lessor sells premises over which there is a periodic tenancy, the lessor may give the tenant four weeks notice to leave while there is a sale contract on the property. The handover day must be at least four weeks after the notice is given. To terminate a periodic tenancy without grounds, two months notice must be given. A fixed-term tenancy cannot be terminated for sale of the premises except at the end of the fixed term or by mutual agreement.
In rooming accommodation, the provider cannot terminate a resident’s fixed-term tenancy due to sale of the premises, however, if the resident is on a periodic tenancy, the provider can issue the resident with a notice to leave without grounds. The handover day must be at least 30 days from when the notice is given.
Under s 185 of the Land Title Act 1994 (Qld), if a lessor sells a residential property during the period of a fixed-term tenancy and the fixed-term lease is less than three years, the new owner must take over the residential property subject to the terms of the existing tenancy agreement. Prospective purchasers should be notified in writing by the lessor of the existence of a tenancy agreement in the contract of purchase.
For residential tenancies, the RTRA Act has provisions to protect others against domestic violence not named on a residential tenancy agreement (e.g. co-tenants, spouses of tenants and same-sex couples in domestic violence situations). A victim of domestic violence may apply to QCAT to terminate the tenancy of their spouse and/or to recognise them as a tenant because their spouse has committed domestic violence against them. The tribunal will need some evidence of the violence, although not necessarily a protection order. An application can also be made to have an interim restraining order put in place.
Section 322 of the RTRA Act also allows an occupant who fears that the tenant is likely to intentionally or recklessly cause serious damage or injury, to apply to QCAT for termination.
There are no equivalent provisions for rooming accommodation.