On 22 April 2020, the Queensland Parliament’s Legislative Assembly passed the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act and the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation (COVID-19 Emergency Response) Regulation 2020. The Act and Regulation received assent on 24 April and the laws are now in effect.
In broad terms, a range of measures to support the residential rental sector were introduced:
- Tenants in financial distress due to the impact of the coronavirus who cannot meet their rent commitments cannot be evicted or listed in a tenancy database for rent arrears.
- Fixed term agreements due to expire during the COVID-19 pandemic will be extended to 30 September 2020 unless the tenant requests a shorter term.
- Cap break lease fees for eligible tenants – household income reduced by at least 75% and savings of less than $5,000.
- Owner obligations for routine repairs and inspections have been relaxed but regulatory obligations to ensure tenant safety in the rental property continue to apply.
- Tenants may refuse physical entry for non-essential reasons, including routine repairs and inspections, particularly if a member of the household is a vulnerable person. However, tenants must agree to virtual inspections if physical inspections are not agreed to.
- Tenants and property owners should work together to reach agreement. If agreement cannot be reached, parties are required to undertake conciliation to resolve disputes which aims to achieve conciliated agreements which form part of the tenancy agreement.
To meet the requirements for the six-month moratorium on evictions, a household is impacted if:
- A person is suffering excessive hardship due to the COVID-19 emergency if any of the following apply:
- one or more tenants or residents are afflicted by COVID-19
- they are subject to a public health direction to stay at a place
- a public health direction has closed their employment or restricted their employer’s trade or business
- they are self-isolating because they or a member of their household or a someone they are a primary carer for is a vulnerable person
- they are unable to work because of a travel restriction
- they have been prevented from returning to Australia; AND
- The person suffers a loss of income of 25% or more, OR
- The rent payable is 30% of more persons income.
We are here to help. We will continue to keep you updated on the latest stimulus measures and announcements. For more information, visit HLB Mann Judd’s COVID-19 Resource Centre to help you and your business in this challenging time.