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Navigating the rental landscape at the moment is enough to fill anyone with anxiety!

Here are some commonly asked questions with regards to the COVID-19 rental laws in QLD.

If you are a tenant or landlord on the Gold Coast and require more information, please don’t hesitate to contact our agency.



Does the 6 month moratorium on evictions cover ALL tenancies in QLD?

No. A tenant must demonstrate that their tenancy is COVID-19 impacted. If the tenancy is not, then “standard” legislation applies. This means that notices to leave can still be issued and breaches for rent arrears can still occur.


If the tenancy is not impacted by COVID-19, do I still have to negotiate the rent?

No

How does a tenant demonstrate that their tenancy is COVID-19 impacted?

Section 6 of the Residential Tenancies & Rooming Accommodation (COVID-19 Emergency Response) Regulation 2020 describes the eligibility criteria to determine if a tenancy is impacted. A tenancy is impacted if:


1. A person has suffered or is suffering excessive hardship due to the COVID-19 emergency if ANY of the following apply:

• a public health direction has closed their employment or restricted their employer’s trade or business, including for example a public health direction has closed a major supplier or customer of their employer (this will be the most common scenario for most tenancies)

• they or someone they care for are afflicted by COVID-19

• they are subject to a quarantine direction

• they are self-isolating because they or someone they live with or are a primary carer for is a vulnerable person

• they are unable to work because a travel restriction imposed under a public health direction prevents them from working or returning home

• they have been prevented from leaving or 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 of a person’s income


Basically, the first step is to determine what area the tenant falls into from point one.


THEN they must also meet the criteria in point 2 OR 3.


The calculation used MUST include all tenants income that are listed on the lease agreement. If the tenants meet all of the criteria, then the tenancy is determined to be COVID-19 impacted and the protections of the emergency legislation apply to the tenancy.

Can I ask for proof of income from my tenants if they request a rend reduction?

Yes. A landlord or agent can request similar information as they would when processing a tenancy application. For example, a severance letter from their employer and any government benefits that the tenant may have applied for. This might come in the form of Centrelink Statements, payslips or bank statements. (bank statements less commonly but sometimes used for self-employed individuals who do not issue themselves with payslips.)

Do I have to negotiate with my tenant if they request a rent reduction and can prove their tenancy is COVID-19 impacted?

Yes.

In most cases, this would be able to be negotiated on your behalf by a professional property manager. However, if you cannot reach an agreement, conciliation with the RTA (Residential Tenancies Authority) is mandatory.

Any agreements should be documented on the correct paperwork and specify exactly what arrangements were mutually agreed.

The RTA have produced a Form 18D which is a variation to the lease agreement. On this form, you should specify whether the rent is a:

1. Rent waiver (does not need to be paid back) or a…

2. Rent deferral. (would need to be paid back)

If a rent deferral is agreed upon then it is important to specify on the agreement, how and when the tenant must pay the shortfall back to the landlord.

Can my tenant break their lease without penalty?

For those tenants who are suffering severe financial hardship, there is a provision in the legislation that allows them to break their lease with only one weeks’ rent penalty.


However, two weeks’ notice still applies. For example, they would need to provide the standard 2 weeks’ notice to vacate and then they would pay one weeks “break lease” penalty (3 weeks in total)

This legislation only applies to tenants who can demonstrate:

1. 75% or more drop in their income (combined for all tenants on the lease)

2. They must have less than $5,000 in their bank account

Can I still take prospective tenants through the property for re-leasing?

Yes. Social distancing laws must be implemented at all open homes. The government have also released strict rules regarding the number of people allowed in a house at any one time during an open for inspection. As at the 14th May, 2020 it is capped at 5 people plus the agent.

Can I still do routine inspections?

Yes. Social distancing laws must be implemented at all routine inspections; however some tenants may still be uncomfortable with allowing people into their home. In this instance, many agents and landlords are implementing “virtual” routine inspections. Tenants MUST participate if requested.

I have more questions! Where can I find information?

For more information please refer to the RTA Practice Guide, available for download on the COVID-19 Rental Hub or by clicking here. Alternatively, please contact Rachel Ramsey by email at rachel@ramseypm.com.au

Ramsey Property Management

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