COVID-19 tenancy update

COVID-19 tenancy update

The Queensland Government acted quickly to legislate its COVID-19 response for residential tenancies. Queensland is in a strong position thanks to early actions taken to manage COVID-19 health risks.

We are extending temporary regulatory measures to 30 September 2021. This will mean Queensland remains ready to respond to COVID-19 risks as we transition back to normal residential tenancy arrangements.

Until 30 September 2021

Protections that continue to apply until 30 September 2021 include:

  • provisions allowing tenants experiencing domestic and family violence to end their tenancies quickly
  • protections for tenants against being listed in a tenancy database for rent arrears caused by COVID-19 impacts
  • limits on re-letting costs for eligible tenants who end their fixed term tenancies early
  • short term tenancy statement extensions for moveable dwellings.

No longer in place

From 30 April 2021

  • Entry restrictions and requirements to support COVID-19 social distancing measures
  • Relaxed repair and maintenance obligations

From 29 September 2020

  • The 6-month eviction moratorium for COVID-19 rent arrears
  • Fixed term agreement extensions for COVID-19 impacted tenants
  • Ending agreement provisions that prevent property owners ending tenancies with COVID-19 impacted tenants without grounds and provide additional grounds for parties to end tenancies (owner occupation and sale of premises which require vacant possession)
  • Adjusted rent and bond processes that support parties to negotiate arrangements to manage COVID-19 impacts on their tenancies
  • Mandatory conciliation of COVID-19 related tenancy disputes through the Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA)

Working together

Tenants and property owners should continue negotiating adjustments to manage any COVID-19 impacts on their residential tenancy arrangements.

The Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA) free dispute resolution service is available to help you reach agreement and resolve issues, including about rent and ending agreements.

Help and advice

If you need help with your tenancy, talk to the RTA:

Our Housing Service Centres can provide housing assistance:

Support for mental health

Frequently asked questions

  • After 30 April 2021, tenants cannot refuse entry to their home for non-essential reasons such as routine inspections.

    If a tenant is concerned about a member of the household with a higher risk profile if exposed to COVID-19, they should discuss these concerns with the landlord or property manager.

    It is important that all parties communicate openly and respectfully. Any entry into rental properties must be in line with public health directions and advice.

    Example

    A tenant receives an entry notice for a routine inspection scheduled for May 2021.

    As the tenant is 74 years old and is at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19, they contact the property manager and raise their concerns about others physically entering the property.

    The property manager and owner discuss the tenant’s concerns and agree with the tenant that a routine inspection can be conducted safely in person, in line with public health directions and with social distancing measures strictly followed.

  • Eligible tenants who need to end their fixed term tenancy early because of COVID-19 impacts will have their break lease costs capped at the equivalent of one weeks rent after giving the required notice period to end the tenancy.

    To be eligible for capped break lease costs the household must have lost 75% or more of their income and have less than $5,000 in savings. Tenants may be asked to provide information to support that they meet these eligibility requirements.

    If the tenant is having difficulty negotiating with the property owner or agent (for example, if they are refusing to discuss or cannot be contacted), contact the RTA to arrange conciliation.

    Example

    Tenant 1 is a part-time student who lives in a share house with 2 other part-time students (Tenant 2 and Tenant 3). Each tenant pays $150 rent. There is 4 months remaining on their fixed term lease. All 3 tenants have lost their casual jobs due to business closures following public health orders. Tenants 2 and 3 have returned to their families who live interstate.

    Tenant 1 must now pay the full rent of $450 per week. Tenant 1 is not eligible for government support payments and has lost their previous income of $600 per week.

    Tenant 1 wants to break the lease to live with an extended family member. Tenant 1’s income has reduced by over 75% and they have savings of under $5,000. Tenants 1, 2 and 3 must give the property owner or manager 2 weeks’ notice of their intention to leave and are eligible for the break lease fee cap at the equivalent of 1 week’s rent.

  • As part of the COVID-19 response, new processes including ‘show cause’ and mandatory conciliation through the RTA were introduced to support the evictions moratorium for rent arrears during the emergency period (29 march to 29 September 2020).

    The six-month eviction moratorium for rent arrears caused by COVID-19 impacts ceased to apply after 29 September 2020. The property owner/manager and the tenant should discuss any rent arrears and try to work out a solution, such as a repayment schedule, taking into account the circumstances of both parties and how any agreement would impact them. If any agreement is not met a Notice to remedy breach (Form 11) can be issued, allowing tenants reasonable time to repay any arrears.

    Property owners and managers are encouraged to be reasonable and consider their tenant’s circumstances and ability to repay arrears. If the tenant does not repay the arrears as per the Notice to remedy breach, property owners can consider issuing a Notice to leave (Form 12). If the tenant does not vacate as per the Notice to Leave, an application may be made to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) to seek a Warrant of Possession. QCAT will consider any health directives when making their order.

    Example

    A tenant has been in rent arrears since 1 September 2020, but the property owner did not start a formal show cause process before 29 September 2020. From 30 September 2020, the property owner may decide to issue a Notice to Remedy Breach (Form 12) to the tenant, providing them with 7 days’ notice to remedy the rent arrears breach.

    The tenant may apply to the RTA for conciliation to help negotiate an outcome, although this is no longer mandatory. If the issue is not resolved, the property owner could commence the usual process to issue the tenant with a Notice to Leave and apply to QCAT for an order if tenant doesn’t vacate the premises.

  • Pre-COVID-19 processes apply to unpaid rent from 30 September 2020.

    The property owner or manager and the tenant should discuss rent arrears and try to work out a solution. For example, a repayment schedule, taking into account both parties’ circumstances and how an agreement would impact them.

    If this does not work and rent has remained unpaid for at least 7 days, tenants can be given a Notice to remedy breach (Form 11). Tenants should be given at least 7 days to remedy the breach. For example, they may repay the arrears or enter a repayment schedule over a reasonable amount of time.

    If the tenant does not repay the arrears, property owners can consider issuing a Notice to leave.

    The RTA’s free conciliation service may help you come to a workable agreement.

  • This will depend on when the tenancy variation agreement expires. If the variation agreement expires after 29 September 2020 (when the 6-month eviction moratorium for rent arrears caused by COVID-19 impacts ended), it is still valid. Tenants and property owners should both keep a copy of their signed variation agreement.

    When a tenancy variation agreement expires, obligations return to the terms in the original tenancy agreement. This might include reverting to the rent amount set out in the original tenancy agreement or an obligation to start repaying unpaid rent. To avoid confusion, parties are encouraged to confirm in writing what was agreed and what is required at the end of the tenancy variation agreement.

    Example

    A tenant fell into rent arrears in mid-August 2020 due to job loss linked to COVID-19. The property owner started the show cause process and mandatory conciliation with the tenant through the RTA.

    The parties entered into a tenancy variation agreement on 20 September 2020 that allowed the tenant to pay reduced rent for 9 months until 20 June 2021. After this date the rent reverts to the original amount and the tenant is required to repay an additional $50 per week until the end of their fixed term.

    Because the tenancy variation agreement was entered into before 29 September 2020, the tenancy variation agreement will continue to apply until its end date. The tenant cannot be evicted for rent arrears during this time, unless they don’t comply with the terms of the tenancy variation agreement.

  • This will depend on when the tenancy variation agreement expires.

    The property owner or manager and the tenant should discuss the changes in their circumstances early and try to work out a solution, considering both parties’ circumstances.  All parties are encouraged to be reasonable in their dealings.

    Example

    A tenant entered into a written tenancy variation agreement with the property owner on 1 July 2020 to defer their rent payments by $100 a week. They agreed to start repaying the original rent amount plus the deferred rent on 1 October 2020, until their fixed term tenancy ends on 5 June 2021.

    The tenant complies with the terms of this tenancy variation agreement. The property owner’s circumstances change in October; they lose their job and need to move back into the rental property. As the tenant is complying with the terms of the tenancy variation agreement and is not in breach of their tenancy obligations, the property owner cannot end the agreement for breach of agreement relating to unpaid rent.

    The property owner can either negotiate with the tenant for an earlier end date, or apply to QCAT to end the tenancy on the grounds of the property owner’s excessive hardship. (The owner occupation grounds for ending a tenancy ended on 29 September 2020). QCAT will consider the terms of the tenancy variation agreement and other relevant matters when making the order.

  • The property owner or manager and the tenant should discuss issues impacting their ability to meet the terms of the tenancy variation agreement early on and try to work out a solution, considering both parties’ circumstances.

    All parties are encouraged to be reasonable in their dealings.

    From 30 September 2020, action can be taken by a property owner or manager to end a COVID-19 impacted tenancy agreement if there is a unremedied breach relating to rent.

    Example

    A tenant lost employment and fell into rent arrears. When they were able to demonstrate that they were COVID-19 impacted, the property owner followed the show cause process and applied for conciliation with the RTA.

    Through conciliation, the parties were able to reach agreement and enter a tenancy variation agreement that offered a temporary rent reduction. The tenant complied with the rent variation initially, but then fell further behind in arrears.

    From 30 September 2020, the property owner may proceed to have the tenant’s tenancy terminated as they failed to meet the terms of the tenancy variation agreement.

  • From 30 September 2020, action can be taken by a property owner or manager to end a COVID-19 impacted tenancy agreement if there is an unremedied breach relating to rent.

    A freeze on evictions for unpaid rent caused by COVID-19 impacts was in place until 29 September 2020.

    Example

    A tenant’s relationship broke down and their partner moved out. One tenant decided to remain in the tenancy alone and all parties agreed to alter the lease accordingly. The remaining tenant began to have difficulty paying the rent in September 2020.

    The property owner held off on the show cause process and worked closely with the remaining tenant to manage the situation. The property owner can decide to follow the standard breach process for rent arrears at any stage as the remaining tenant is not COVID-19 impacted.

  • Yes. Evidence may be required to substantiate the reasons for ending a tenancy and penalties may apply for misusing or making a false statement via a Notice to Leave for owner occupation or premises being sold which require vacant possession.

    The Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation (COVID-19 Response) Regulation 2020 has been amended to clarify that property owners are only prevented from re-letting the property until 30 April 2021.

    Example

    An owner issues a notice to leave to their tenant because the premises are being sold and require vacant possession. The tenant vacates the rental property on the handover day after the required 2 months’ notice on 1 October 2020. Two weeks later, the tenant finds the property owner has rented the property to another person under a new agreement.

    The tenant makes a formal complaint to the RTA regarding the potential misuse of the provision. The RTA investigates and confirms that the owner misused the notice to leave for premises being sold ground. The owner is penalised for the offence.

  • Visit Bond loans and rental grants for more information and to check your eligibility. You can also call your local Housing Service Centre on 13 QGOV (13 74 68).

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Last updated:
29 April 2021