The Queensland Government has announced further information regarding changes to residential tenancies in response to COVID-19 including an economic package and legislative changes.
Following the announcement on March 29 that there would be a moratorium on evictions throughout Australia, the Queensland Government has confirmed that they are placing a freeze on evictions for six (6) months for Queensland tenants that are experiencing financial distress due to the impacts of COVID-19, with the freeze being applied retroactively from March 29.
Other protective measures announced include: –
- Prohibition on evicting tenants due to expiration of lease during the pandemic. The Government has advised that property owners will be required to offer an extension to the lease for at least a further six (6) months.
- Tenants are permitted to end leases early if they are unable to meet their lease obligations due to the impacts of COVID-19 with a cap on break lease penalties to be announced.
- Tenants can now refuse entry to the property for non-essential reasons.
- Tenants who are experiencing financial hardship due to the impacts of COVID-19 and are unable to meet their lease obligations will not be placed on the tenancy database.
- Added protection and support for Queenslanders experiencing domestic violence to allow such people to leave rental properties on short notice, change locks without approval, access their bond and separate from co-tenancies.
- Coronavirus Rental Relief grant. For more information see our previous article on residential tenancies
With the measures outlined the Government is encouraging landlords and tenants to reach mutually agreeable solutions together, with mandatory conciliation through the Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA) to occur if this is not possible. It has been indicated that the RTA will have guidelines for how to manage these conciliations, including the prohibition on landlords requiring tenants to draw on superannuation or sell personal assets.
The Queensland Government has created a Residential Rental Hub on their website to provide renters and property owners information and resources to deal with these changes.
Details of how these changes will be legislated are likely to be available in the next week with the Queensland Government sitting in parliament next Wednesday, 22 April 2020.