Queensland Tenancy Reforms Expected to Pass This Week

NEWSLFASH!  

Queensland Tenancy Reforms Expected to Pass This Week 

As recommended by the Community Support and Services Committee Report , the Housing Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 is high on the agenda this week and expected to be passed. 

In this continuing series of updates “Qld Tenancy Reforms – What An Investment Owner Needs to Know” by the Property Management Team at Clark Real Estate we provide interested investors with some further detail on these proposed reforms. We’ll keep you up to date with the progress of the Bill through Parliament, crucial info you need to know and when the changes are due to come into effect. 

This week we look at the New Minimum Housing Standards 

What are the new minimum housing standards? 

The prescribed minimum housing standards are broken down into two categories:  

Safety and Security: 

  • weatherproof and structurally sound – premises must be weatherproof, structurally sound and in good repair 
  • fixtures and fittings – fixtures and fittings, including electrical appliances, for the premises must be in good repair and must not be likely to cause injury to a person through the ordinary use of them 
  • locks on windows and doors – premises must have a functioning lock or latch fitted to all  external windows and doors to secure the premises against unauthorised entry 
  • vermin, damp and mould – premises must be free of vermin, damp and mould (excludes mould caused by the tenant) where the lessor or provider is responsible for those parts of the premises, and 
  • privacy – premises must have privacy coverings for windows in all rooms in which tenants or residents are reasonably likely to expect privacy, such as bedrooms. 

 Reasonable Functionality: 

  • plumbing and drainage;  
  • bathrooms and toilets; 
  • kitchen and laundry. 

The above standards would be supported by several amendments to the RTRA Act to encourage compliance, clarify repair and maintenance obligations and support enforcement, including: 

  • extending the time the renter has to return the entry condition report from three days to seven days to allow them sufficient time to inspect the premises 
  • requiring the property owner to provide details about nominated repairers for emergency repairs 
  • increasing the cost that can be authorised by the renter for emergency repairs from the equivalent of two weeks’ rent to the equivalent of four weeks’ rent 
  • allowing property managers to arrange emergency repairs to the amount allowed for renters to arrange emergency repairs 
  • introducing tribunal Repair Orders with a continuing penalty offence for contravening a repair order, which will be provided to the RTA for enforcement, and introducing additional grounds for renters to end an agreement in some circumstances if the property does not comply with minimum housing standards or the owner has not complied with a QCAT Repair Order, and  
  • allowing property owners to apply to QCAT for an extension of time to comply with the Repair Order. 
  • The Bill provides for certain information and documents to be disclosed to renters when the property if offered to the market, including whether the property is the subject of a tribunal repair order. We anticipate this may possibly* include the following: 
  • Smoke Alarm Compliance 
  • Safety Switch 
  • Blind Cords  
  • Electrical Safety 
  • Gas Safety 
  • Minimum Housing Standards Compliance Certificate 
  • Material Information Disclosure 

* The regulation is not yet drafted. However, some guidance could be gleaned from NSW and Victoria’s legislation reforms.  

Cost 

In respect of concerns over cost to owners, it was noted by the Committee that “regular maintenance and repairs are an ongoing and expected cost of owning a property, whether or not it is rented”. 

This is something that is often misunderstood by investment owner and tenants in trying to strike the right balance between their respective expectations around return on investment and standard of living.  

As property managers, our role is to ensure each party understands and acknowledges their obligations and rights as well as maximising return on investment for our clients within the legislative framework. This is what we are trained and experienced to do. Well gone are the days when an owner could simply allow a property to fall into disrepair and if this is your current investment strategy, it’s time to speak to us about how we can help you find a solution that ensures you don’t fall foul of the new legislation.  

Timing 

It is expected the new standards would be phased in and apply  

from 1 September 2023, where a tenancy agreement starts on or after that date, and  

from 1 September 2024 to all other rental properties. 

What To Do Now in Preparation 

Speak to us!  

As Benjamin Franklin’s maxim goes “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” 

We want to ensure you are well prepared and have all the necessary information and paperwork ready to lease your compliant property by the due date in 2023/24, with a well-planned and budgeted strategy.  

Our Property Management Team at Clark Real Estate have always worked on the premise that a well-maintained property will always give the best return. So, our approach well anticipates these reforms. We have been proactively working with owners to ensure their properties continue to be well maintained and offering these minimum housing standards.  

  • Inspections are conducted 3 times per year and any maintenance actioned promptly.  
  • Our owners are also encouraged to regularly undertake a qualified building inspection to ensure a more thorough check is completed to avoid any nasty surprises that are not able to be picked up on routine.  
  • Remember, your Property Manager is not a qualified builder, electrician, or plumber! But we have a trusted group of trades to provide advice and competitive quotes.  
  • We also work with our investment owners to build a maintenance plan reviewed annually upon lease renewal and budgets set accordingly.  
  • We offer a maintenance fund facility within our trust account to build funds over time to smooth your cashflow.  

If you own an investment property and are worried how to manage compliance and all the new reforms whilst maintaining returns, now is the time to speak to us. Call Nathan Andrew, Team Leader, Property Management on 0420 946 548.