For renters

For renters

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.

All parties have a responsibility to work together to sustain tenancies to keep people in their homes. There's help available for renters who have been impacted by COVID-19.

There are a range of measures to support renters, property owners and property managers during the six-month freeze on evictions. These include:

  • tenants in financial distress due to the impact of COVID-19 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 which aims to achieve conciliated agreements which form part of the tenancy agreement.

Private renters

Renters and property owners are encouraged to agree on solutions together. If this is not possible, conciliation through the Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA) is mandatory for tenancy disputes relating to rent arrears.

If you are having trouble paying your rent, or think you will have trouble, you should let your property owner or manager know as soon as possible. It’s best if all parties try to come to a suitable outcome and work through these impacts during this difficult time.

You should:

  • talk to your property owner or manager to negotiate a suitable outcome
  • try to be understanding and reasonable in your dealings with each other
  • consider each situation individually
  • document any decisions made
  • follow any government and/or health agency requirements.

As a freeze on evictions has been announced, 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.

Renters and property owners are encouraged to agree on solutions together. If this is not possible, conciliation through the Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA) is mandatory for tenancy disputes relating to rent arrears.

If you still have difficulty paying the rent, the Australian Government has expanded financial support entitlements. Make sure you have applied to Centrelink for the COVID-19 income support.

More information is available in the Residential Tenancies Practice Guide.

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.

Social housing tenants

We are keeping in touch with social housing tenants that will be affected by the impacts of COVID-19. We will continue to provide regular updates through letters, SMS and online to ensure that you can easily access support and assistance.

Social housing tenants should not expect any changes to their tenancy agreements due to increases in income related to COVID-19 financial assistance either from the State or Commonwealth governments.

If you have questions about your social housing, please talk with your local Housing Service Centre.

Frequently asked questions

Starting a tenancy

Paying rent

  • A freeze on evictions for COVID-19 impacted tenancies is in place until 29 September 2020. 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.

    If you can’t pay your full rent you should work through a new rental rate with your property owner and formalise the new rent amount 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 you are having trouble, or think you will have trouble paying your rent, let your property owner or manager know as soon as possible.

    Ideally, you and your property owner will come to an agreed way to work through these impacts during this difficult time. 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.

    A freeze on evictions for COVID-19 impacted tenancies is in place until 29 September 2020 (see question 5). Renters and property owners are encouraged to agree on solutions together. If this is not possible, conciliation through the RTA is mandatory for tenancy disputes relating to rent arrears.

    The Australian Government has expanded financial support entitlements. Make sure you have applied to Centrelink for the COVID-19 income support.

    For more information, SMS “Hi” to 0480 000 782 or call RTA on 1800 497 161.

  • We have placed a freeze on evictions until 29 September for Queensland tenants experiencing financial distress due to the impacts of COVID-19. See answer to question 5 for more information on eligibility.

    It’s important that you talk with your property owner and try to reach agreement. You may need to explain why you are having trouble paying your rent.

    If you are unable to reach agreement, conciliation through the RTA is mandatory for tenancy disputes relating to rent arrears. In this conciliation process, you may be required to provide information to the RTA to demonstrate your financial situation and substantiate the hardship you are experiencing.

    For more information, 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.

Inspections and maintenance

  • Open house inspections may be conducted with a maximum of 6 people (including the real estate agent) inside the building at any one time, with no more than one person per 4 square metres. Private appointments for inspection can also be done, ensuring social distancing is observed.

    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.

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

    Additionally, you will have the right to refuse entry to the property by an owner or agent/manager for non-essential reasons (including routine inspections), particularly if you or a member of your household has a higher risk profile if exposed to COVID-19.

    Inspections can still be done via video conference, detailed photos or by appointment while observing social distancing and hygiene protocols. Refer to Queensland Health for information on the current public health directions.

    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. All parties should advise each other early of any health, safety or financial impacts if the inspection does or doesn’t occur.

  • Repairs and maintenance may be required to keep the premises safe, and in many cases can be completed in-line with social distancing rules. Talk with your property owner or manager if you have any concerns.

Ending a tenancy

  • Eligible tenants who need to end their fixed term lease early because of COVID-19 impacts will have their break lease costs capped at the equivalent of one week rent during the COVID-19 pandemic, 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 $5000 in savings. Tenants may be asked to provide information to support that they meet these eligibility requirements.

    If you are having difficulty negotiating with your property owner or agent (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 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.

    If you need support to access new accommodation, our RentConnect service can help you find and apply for a place to rent. Find out more on our RentConnect page or call phone 13 QGOV (13 74 68) to make an appointment with a RentConnect officer.

  • You cannot be evicted for rent arrears due to financial distress caused by COVID-19. If you have received a notice to leave in these circumstances, you should contact the property manager or owner to discuss this and negotiate a way to manage the issue.

    There are approved reasons for ending a tenancy which will still apply. These include for example, where the premises are being sold or the owner is preparing the property for sale or there has been a serious unremedied breach by tenant (other than failure to pay rent due to hardship related to COVID-19). The full set of approved reasons to end a tenancy are available on the RTA website www.rta.qld.gov.au/Renting/Ending-a-tenancy/Ending-a-tenancy-agreement

    If you are unable to reach agreement with your property owner, and your dispute relates to rent arrears, you will both be required to participate in conciliation through the RTA to help reach an agreement. If it will be difficult for you to move, given the restrictions associated with COVID-19, it is important that you speak with your property manager or agent as soon as possible to highlight any concerns you may have.

    For tenancy information and support, please contact 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.
  • If your lease is due to expire and you wish to stay in the property, your property owner must allow you to stay  until at least 30 September 2020. This is not a new agreement and should be an extension of your current agreement. This means fixed-term agreements will be extended to 30 September 2020, unless the tenant requires a shorter term.

    You should talk to your property manager as soon as possible to work out an arrangement.

    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.

Last updated:
1 June 2020