By Aline Rodrigues
Queensland Government has published the Residential Tenancies Practice Guide, following the passing of the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act in Parliament last week.
This practical guide aims to formalize requirements and protections for tenancies impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, who are working out a fair rental agreement until income support comes through.
Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni said the Practice Guide would help property owners and their tenants in their discussions to negotiate a way through the next six months.
“Most property owners and tenants are already coming to their own agreements about how they can work through this period, making sure that nobody loses the roof over their head.”
The guide was made in collaboration with Tenants Queensland and the Real Estate Institute of Queensland.
“The new regulations struck a fair balance for tenants, owners and property managers”, said Mr de Brenni.
A special COVID-19 Housing Security Subcommittee had been established. “Tenants who are suffering or who have suffered excessive hardship because of COVID-19 who cannot meet their rent commitments cannot be evicted or listed in a tenancy database because of that suffering”.
Specifically, the Residential Tenancies Practice Guide provides detail on:
- Threshold criteria to qualify for the application of the COVID-19 rental response, that includes a 25% reduction in income, or where the rent exceeds 30% of the tenant’s income.
- The evidence that tenants can be asked to provide the same proof of finances to property managers just as they would when starting a tenancy.
- Access for the sale of the property, virtual rental inspections and access for essential repairs and maintenance.
- The 75% income loss and less than $5,000 in savings threshold before a tenant is eligible for a 7-day cap on break lease fees if they end a fixed-term lease early.
- The extension on the term of a fixed-term tenancy agreement during the COVID-19 period to September 30, 2020, unless agreed otherwise by the owner and tenant, or there is an appropriate ground to end the tenancy.
- Conciliation with the Residential Tenancies Authority, including the renegotiation of lease agreements where parties are COVID-19 affected, which could cover new rent payments and deferrals if this is agreed to.
The Practice Guide can be accessed on www.COVID19.qld.gov.au/the-hub