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Tenants Rights and Obligations
Where a person or persons agree to pay the owner of a property to allow them to live in that property, they are known as the tenant. The owner or manager of the property is the landlord. Tenants rights and obligations in Queensland are set out in the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008.
Starting a tenancy
When leasing a property in Queensland, it is recommended you have a written tenancy agreement to ensure the rights and responsibilities are clear and understood by both parties. A tenant with a written fixed-term tenancy agreement has more protection under the law when compared with a tenant leasing under a verbal periodic agreement.
A condition report should be given to the tenant prior to moving into the property. The tenant should complete the report and return it to the landlord. This report documents the condition of the property and any damage prior to the start of the tenancy.
It is normal for a landlord to request that a bond is paid prior to the tenant moving into the property. In Queensland, the bond is paid to the landlord who then lodges it with the Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA). Once it has been lodged, the RTA will provide the tenant with a letter confirming they have received the bond.
Queensland legislation stipulates where the rent is less than $700 per week, the maximum bond cannot exceed the equivalent of 1 months’ rent.
Late payment of rent
The tenancy agreement will stipulate when the rent is payable each month. The tenant is responsible for ensuring the rent is paid on time, and must allow for bank transfer delays (if using Internet banking).
As tenant rights and obligations in Queensland are governed by law, legal consequences may follow if the rent is late. If the rent it more than 7 days late, the tenant may receive a ‘notice to remedy the breach’. If the tenant fails to pay the rent in arrears within 7 days of receiving the ‘notice to remedy’, the landlord will then have the right to serve a ‘notice to leave’.
Once a ‘notice to leave’ has been given, the tenant must either move out of the property or pay the arrears and request written permission to continue the tenancy.
During the tenancy agreement, rental increases are only permitted where a special condition is added at the start of the tenancy allowing rental increases.
Where rental increases are permitted, 2 months notice must be given and only 1 increase is permitted in a 6-month period.
Entry to the property
A general inspection of the property can only occur once every 3 months. The landlord must provide 7 days notice prior to inspection. If the landlord wishes to enter the property for other reasons including repairs, confirming breaches have been rectified, and other urgent matters, 24 hours notice must be given.
Some exceptions to notice requirements exist, such as in an emergency, if the landlord has reason to believe the property is going to be damaged, or if the tenant agrees.
Change of tenants
A tenancy agreement is a binding contract between the landlord and the tenants named in the agreement. If one of the tenants moves out of the property prior to the end of the tenancy agreement, they are still responsible for the condition of the property and paying the rent. They should advise the landlord as soon as possible and request that their name be removed from the lease.
The remaining tenant or tenants must seek the landlord’s written permission before replacing any tenants in the property.
Prior to signing the tenancy agreement the tenant should discuss with the landlord whether pets are allowed in the property.
If the landlord agrees to pets living in the property, the type and number of pets must be noted in the tenancy agreement.
Time limits in Sale of the property
In Queensland, if the landlord decides to sell the rental property, the tenant could be affected depending on the type of lease they have.
Where the tenant has signed a tenancy agreement for a fixed term, the landlord cannot evict the tenant prior to the end date noted in the agreement. However, if the tenant is on a periodic tenancy (such as month to month) they can be asked to vacate the property with 4 weeks notice.
Tenants rights and obligations in Queensland when ending the tenancy
At the end of the tenancy agreement, the tenant is required to move all belongings out and clean the property. The tenant should complete an exit report and provide a copy to the landlord once they have vacated the property.
If the tenant has caused damage to the property, or left it in an unclean condition, the landlord may claim an amount from the bond to cover the costs of repairs or cleaning. To do so, they must complete a Refund of Rental Bond form, have the tenant sign it, and lodge it with the RTA. The landlord can only claim a portion of the bond if the tenant signs the form. If the tenant does not agree with the deductions, they should not sign it.
Where there is a disagreement regarding the bond, either the tenant or the landlord can lodge the form with the RTA. They will then send the other party a Notice of Claim form along with a Dispute Resolution Request form. If no response is received within 14 days, the money will be paid out as originally requested.
If the forms are completed and returned, the RTA will try to help resolve the dispute. Where agreement cannot be reached, the party who lodged the Dispute Resolution Request form can apply to QCAT to resolve the issue.