For property owners

For property owners

It’s never been more important to ensure people do not have to face the prospect of homelessness, than during this global pandemic. It’s critical from a public health perspective that people can self-isolate in their own homes, and this means ensuring that they can remain in their rental properties for the duration of this crisis.

Most renters and property owners are already coming to agreements, that are meeting the needs of both parties.

If you own a property for rent in Queensland, including a house, unit, share house, room, caravan or houseboat, there are rules that must be followed. Your rights and responsibilities are set out in the Residential Tenancies And Rooming Accommodation Act 2008.

Neither property owners or tenants are to blame for the effects of COVID-19, and now is the time to work through this together to get out to the other side of this pandemic.

In response to COVID-19, we have introduced a range of measures to support the residential rental sector:

  • tenants in financial distress due to the impact of the coronavirus who cannot meet their rent commitments cannot be evicted or listed in a tenancy database for rent arrears.
  • fixed term agreements due to expire during the COVID-19 pandemic will be extended to 30 September 2020 unless the tenant requests a shorter term.
  • cap break lease fees for eligible tenants – household income reduced by at least 75% and savings of less than $5,000.
  • owner obligations for routine repairs and inspections have been relaxed but regulatory obligations to ensure tenant safety in the rental property continue to apply.
  • tenants may refuse physical entry for non-essential reasons, including routine repairs and inspections, particularly if a member of the household is a vulnerable person. However, tenants must agree to virtual inspections if physical inspections are not agreed to.
  • tenants and property owners should work together to reach agreement. If agreement cannot be reached, parties are required to undertake conciliation to resolve disputes relating to rent arrears, which aims to achieve conciliated agreements which form part of the tenancy agreement.

To meet the requirements for the six-month moratorium on evictions, a household is impacted if:

  1. A person is suffering excessive hardship due to the COVID-19 emergency if any of the following apply:
    1. one or more tenants or residents are afflicted by COVID-19
    2. they are subject to a public health direction to stay at a place
    3. a public health direction has closed their employment or restricted their employer’s trade or business
    4. they are self-isolating because they or a member of their household or a someone they are a primary carer for is a vulnerable person
    5. they are unable to work because of a travel restriction
    6. they have been prevented from returning to Australia; AND
  2. the person suffers a loss of income of 25% or more, OR
  3. the rent payable is 30% or more person’s income.

More information is available in the Residential Tenancies Practice Guide. The Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA) can provide information and support tenants and property owners to reach agreement. They also offer a free dispute resolution service if you need further support.

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

  • text (SMS) “Hi” to 0480 000 782
  • call the RTA’s information hotline on 1800 497 161 from 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday
  • visit the Residential Tenancies Authority website.

Frequently asked questions

Starting a tenancy

  • If tenants are impacted by COVID-19 it is important that you work with them to agree a way forward that works for both of you. You may want to negotiate delaying the tenancy until the tenant’s situation improves. Any agreement made should be put in writing. You can download an RTA COVID-19 tenancy variation form for general tenancies (18d and 18f) or rooming accommodation (18e) to help you document the new agreement properly.

    If new tenants have paid rent in advance, they may ask for a refund. Any refund is at your discretion. The government has announced a cap on break lease penalties, for eligible tenants who need to end their fixed term lease early because of COVID-19 impacts.

    To be eligible for capped break lease costs capped at one week, the household must have lost 75% or more of their income and have less than $5000 in savings. Tenants may be asked to provide information to support that they meet these eligibility requirements.

    You should try to reach an agreement that meets the needs of all parties. If this is not possible, the RTA has a conciliation service available that can help you reach an agreed outcome.

Receiving rent

  • If tenants are impacted by COVID-19 it is important that you work with them to agree a way forward that works for both of you. You should talk with your tenant and agree a plan on how to manage the end of lease process based on the date they informed you of breaking the lease. The tenant must have lost income due to COVID 19. If money was owing prior to this they are liable for the full amount.

    Tenant break lease costs will be capped at the equivalent of one week rent during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    If you are having difficulty negotiating with your tenant or you don’t think they are genuinely experiencing financial hardship related to COVID-19, (for example, if they are refusing to discuss or cannot be contacted), you should contact the RTA to arrange conciliation which is mandatory for tenancy disputes relating to rent arrears.

    If you have landlord insurance, you may be able to make a claim for losses covered by your policy that the bond amount does not cover.

  • Try to minimise the potential for tension or stress by communicating openly, understanding each other’s circumstance and working together to agree a way forward that works for both of you.

    If your tenants are likely to have difficulty meeting rent payments due to the impacts of COVID-19:

    • Start talking to them early about their options and keep discussions going, as circumstances can change quickly
    • Be reasonable when considering requests for rent adjustments. It is always better to keep good, long-term tenants than find new tenants
    • Consider the situation the tenant will be in when the COVID-19 pandemic subsides
    • Agree to the terms of any rent adjustments and be clear about expectations. For example, how much the rent can be reduced by and for what period.
    • Put the agreement in writing by using the General tenancy, rooming accommodation and moveable dwelling COVID-19 variation agreements (Forms 18d, e and f), including any special conditions.

    If you are unable to reach agreement, conciliation through the RTA is mandatory for tenancy disputes relating to rent arrears. The RTA can ask the tenant to provide information about their personal finances that can assist to resolve the dispute.

    Any agreement about changes to the tenancy arrangement whether negotiated privately or through dispute resolution should be recorded in writing, including rent adjustments. You can download an RTA COVID-19 tenancy variation form for general tenancies (18d and 18f) or rooming accommodation (18e) to help you document the new agreement properly.

    The Australian Government has also expanded financial support entitlements. Read more about information and services available for people affected by COVID-19.

    If you can't come to an agreement, you can contact RTA for tenancy information and support:

    • text (SMS) “Hi” to 0480 000 782
    • call the RTA’s information hotline on 1800 497 161 from 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday
    • visit the Residential Tenancies Authority website.
  • A freeze on evictions due to rent arrears caused by financial distress due to the impacts of COVID-19 was announced on 29 March 2020.

    If the rent arrears are not caused by financial distress due to the impacts of COVID-19, you should follow the normal breach processes for rent arrears.

    It is important to work with your tenant to try reaching an agreement about these issues during the pandemic.

    The RTA's free dispute resolution service may be able to help you reach an agreement or formalise an agreement you are able to make with your tenants.

  • You should talk to your financial institution, as you may be able to access mortgage relief.

    The Queensland Government is offering land tax incentives to property owners to maintain tenancies and reduce rent for tenants through rebates or deferrals of land tax liabilities. Further information about available incentives can be found here.

    Information about other actions the Queensland Government is taking to address the impacts of COVID-19 can be found here.

  • The rules around property abandonment remain the same.

  • A freeze on evictions due to rent arrears caused by financial distress due to the impacts of COVID-19 was announced on 29th March 2020. A notice to leave issued before this date, in the correct form, will still apply.

    If your tenant raises concerns about challenges, they will face to comply with the notice to leave, talk to them openly, try to understand each other's circumstances and develop an acceptable solution.

    The RTA's free dispute resolution service may be able to help you reach an agreement or formalise an agreement you are able to make with your tenants.

    Contact the RTA for more information:

    • text (SMS) “Hi” to 0480 000 782
    • call the RTA’s information hotline on 1800 497 161 from 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday
    • visit the Residential Tenancies Authority website.

Inspections and maintenance

  • Tenants can refuse entry to the property for non-essential reasons (including routine inspections), particularly if they or a member of their household has a higher risk profile if exposed to COVID-19.

    Property owners and managers can enter the property in emergencies to protect the property or inclusions from imminent or further damage or conduct essential repairs, for example smoke alarm inspections and servicing.

    Entry to comply with existing regulatory obligations that ensure tenant safety in the rental property, such as maintaining smoke alarms, must be permitted.

    If a tenant refuses physical entry for an inspection they must allow a virtual inspections, or other ways of allowing inspections, such as by video conference, photographs or by appointment if social distancing and hygiene protocols are maintained, should be considered.

    Consider how to minimise tension or stress by:

    • communicating openly
    • understanding each other’s circumstances
    • developing an acceptable solution
    • documenting any decisions made.

    If you can postpone or reschedule inspections to a time where all parties are comfortable, this is the best way to minimise risk. It is important that all parties communicate openly and respectfully and try to establish an agreed way to work during this difficult time. Any agreement should be recorded in writing.

    If the tenant indicates they have been overseas in the last 14 days and are unwell or self-isolating, it’s important you follow Queensland Health advice or call 13HEALTH before entering.

  • Repairs and maintenance may be required to keep the premises safe, and in many cases can be completed in-line with social distancing rules. If the tenant indicates they have been overseas in the last 14 days and are unwell or self-isolating, it’s important you follow Queensland Health advice or call 13HEALTH before entering. Refer to Queensland Health for information on the current public health directions.

    Property owners and managers can enter the property in emergencies to protect the property or inclusions from imminent or further damage or conduct essential repairs, for example smoke alarm inspections and servicing.

Ending a tenancy

  • You can issue a notice to leave for an approved reason to end a tenancy except for rent arrears caused by financial distress due to the impact of COVID-19. If a lease expires within the six month freeze on evictions, you must offer an extension to COVID-19 impacted tenancies until at least 30 September 2020. This is not a new agreement and should be an extension of your current agreement.

    If your financial situation has changed and you need to move back into your property, you can issue your tenant with a notice to leave for owner occupation giving the tenant two months’ notice that their lease will end at the end of the fixed term.

    If your tenant raises concerns about challenges they will face to comply with the notice to leave, talk to them openly, try to understand each other's circumstances and develop an acceptable solution.

    If you are unable to reach agreement, conciliation through the RTA is mandatory for tenancy disputes relating to rent arrears. Contact the RTA for more information:

    • text (SMS) “Hi” to 0480 000 782
    • call the RTA’s information hotline on 1800 497 161 from 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday
    • visit the Residential Tenancies Authority website.
  • Not if the tenant has been affected by COVID-19. A freeze on evictions due to rent arrears caused by financial distress due to the impacts of COVID-19 was announced on 29th March 2020.

    A notice to leave issued before this date, in the correct form, will still apply.

    If your tenant raises concerns about challenges they will face to comply with the notice to leave, talk to them openly, try to understand each other's circumstances and develop an acceptable solution. You will also need to talk with any incoming tenants about how they will be impacted.

    The RTA has a conciliation service may be able to help you reach an agreement or formalise an agreement you are able to make with your tenants.

    Contact the RTA for more information and support:

    • text (SMS) “Hi” to 0480 000 782
    • call the RTA’s information hotline on 1800 497 161 from 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday
    • visit the Residential Tenancies Authority website.

Last updated:
1 June 2020