In brief - Landlords will need to ensure that residential premises comply with minimum standards
Sanitation, ventilation, state of repair, safety, room height and lighting are among the aspects of rented residential premises that the proposed minimum standards will address.
Bill introduced into Queensland parliament in March 2014
Who needs to know about the Bill?
Landlords of private residential rental accommodation in Queensland and their managing agents.
What will the Bill do?
The Bill proposes to amend the Act by imposing prescribed minimum housing standards ("Minimum Standards") for Queensland residential rental premises in relation to matters including:
•sanitation, drainage, cleanliness and repair of premises
•ventilation and insulation
•protection from damp and its effects
•construction, condition, structures, safety and situation of premises
•dimensions, cubical extent and height of rooms in the premises
•privacy and security
•provision of water supply, storage and sanitary facilities
•freedom from vermin infestation
The Bill requires landlords to ensure that the premises comply with the Minimum Standards before letting the premises to a tenant.
A tenant may give a written notice to the landlord if the premises do not comply with the Minimum Standards.
What are the penalties for non-compliance with the Minimum Standards?
If the tenant obtains an order from the Residential Tenancies Authority ("the Authority") confirming that the premises do not meet the Minimum Standards, the landlord must ensure that the premises comply with the Minimum Standards within the timeframe noted on the order. A landlord who fails to adhere to the terms of the order is liable for a fine of approximately $2,200.
Who monitors compliance with the Minimum Standards?
The Authority may, with or without an application by the tenant, undertake investigations to ensure that the premises comply with the Minimum Standards. If the Authority is satisfied that the premises do not comply, the Authority must give a written report ("Report") of its investigation to the landlord and the tenant and inform the tenant that the tenant may make an application for an order requiring the landlord to ensure that the Minimum Standards are met.
In addition to the Authority's unilateral power of investigation, the tenant may apply in writing to the Authority to investigate if the tenant has previously given the landlord written notice that the premises do not meet the Minimum Standards and the landlord fails to ensure compliance within 28 days of being given the notice by the tenant.
What if my tenant has not yet entered into occupation of the premises?
If the tenant has given notice to the landlord that the premises do not meet the Minimum Standards or obtained a Report from the Authority to that effect before the tenant enters into occupation of the premises, then the tenant is not required to enter into occupation of the premises, despite the commencement date noted in any tenancy agreement. The tenant is also not required to pay rent until it occupies the premises.
What if my tenant has already entered into occupation of the premises?
If the tenant has given notice to the landlord that the premises do not meet the Minimum Standards or has obtained a Report from the Authority to that effect after the tenant has entered into occupation of the premises, then the tenant may apply for an order that the tenant pay rent under its lease into a "special rent account", created by the Bill, which purports to quarantine rent payments in those circumstances.
The relevant tribunal may determine how the rent paid into the special rent account is apportioned between the landlord and the tenant.
Can parties contract out of the Minimum Standards?
No. Parties cannot opt out of the Minimum Standards, however there is no positive obligation on a party to a lease to notify the other party (or the Authority) if the Minimum Standards are not being met.
When will the Bill take effect?
Prior to being considered for royal assent, the Bill will be subject to a consultation period during which the Minimum Standards (amongst other things) will be fine-tuned. The commencement date for the consultation period and the proposed length of the consultation period have not yet been confirmed.
Is there a grace period?
Yes. The Bill proposes a one year transitional period to enable landlords to ensure that their residential rental premises meet the Minimum Standards.
This note just speaks broadly and for general information and is not intended to be comprehensive. You should not rely on this as a final statement or as advice about your own situation.
This article has been published by Colin Biggers & Paisley for information and education purposes only and is a general summary of the topic(s) presented. This article is not specific legal or financial advice. Please seek your own legal or financial advice for any questions you may have. All information contained in this article is subject to change. Colin Biggers & Paisley cannot be held responsible for any liability whatsoever, or for any loss howsoever arising from any reliance upon the contents of this article.