In our December edition of ManagementOne we brought to your attention the new residential tenancy laws that were coming in 2022. Most of the changes will commence on 1 October 2022. The key changes include:
From 1 October there are only limited grounds for refusing pets. If a tenant wishes to keep a pet, the first step will be a formal request from the tenant (this should be a detailed request) and will be on a RTA form.
It is really important to remember that a landlord is deemed to have approved a pet if they have not responded to a request within 14 days OR their response is not in the correct form. If you receive a pet request on behalf of an owner, you will need to ensure that you action the request promptly and keep yourself updated with the new RTA forms (which will be available on the RTA website from 1 October).
You will recall that the reasonable grounds to refuse a pet are:
- Keeping the pet would exceed a reasonable number of animals being kept.
- The premises are unsuitable for keeping the pet.
- Keeping the pet is likely to cause damage to the premises.
- Keeping the pet would pose an unacceptable risk to the health and safety of a person.
- Keeping the pet would contravene a law.
- Keeping the pet would contravene a body corporate by-law.
- The tenant has not agreed to the reasonable conditions proposed by the lessor for approval to keep the pet.
The tenant will be responsible for all damage caused by their pet, but there is no ability for a landlord to increase bonds or charge additional amounts to cover this possible damage.
It is also an opportune time to update yourself with the by-laws of your scheme and the pet approval process that is currently in place with your body corporate manager. Most body corporate management companies have their own forms and processes for pet approvals.
The fact that keeping a pet would be in contravention of a body corporate by-law IS a valid ground to refuse a pet.
Where the by-laws allow pets with consent, it may be necessary in the first instance to refuse the pet until such time as the consent of the committee is obtained. This is because the body corporate is not bound by the same time frames to respond. The committee has 6 weeks after the day a motion was submitted (i.e. the ‘decision period’) to decide on an application.
From 1 October you must rely on the specific grounds set out in the legislation to end a tenancy agreement. The controversial change has been the removal of the property owner’s right to terminate a periodic tenancy agreement without grounds. The new reasons that an owner can end a tenancy include:
- the sale or preparation for sale of the rental property which requires vacant possession;
- a planned property redevelopment, demolition, significant repair or renovation;
- change of use (e.g. move to short-stay accommodation);
- the owner or a relative needs to occupy the property; or
- serious or significant breach.
From 1 October it is now an offence if the notice to leave provisions are misused. For example, if a notice to leave is given because an owner intends to occupy the property themselves, they must do that. It is an offence (50 penalty units) if they offer to let the property as a residential tenancy within 6 months.
By now, we expect that you would have reviewed your tenancy agreements to identify any properties which are currently subject to a periodic agreement and ensured that your owners are aware of any periodic tenancies. A Notice to Leave without grounds can be issued up to and including 30 September 2022 and the notice remains effective after 1 October 2022 (providing the correct timeframe has been applied and it is valid under the existing legislation).
There will be further provisions in relation to minimum housing standards for new tenancies from 1 September 2023 and for all tenancies from 1 September 2024 – details will be released in due course. It was always planned for there to be further amendments discussed by the government later this year. In addition, on 31 August 2022, the Member for South Brisbane, Dr Amy MacMahon MP, introduced another bill proposing a two-year residential rent freeze and a cap for future increases. This will go through the usual process of public consultation, with written submissions due by 31 October 2022, followed by a public hearing and a report by the Community Support and Services Committee due early next year.
As each factual situation is different, please take our comments as general guidance and contact Mahoneys to obtain timely and practical legal advice in relation to any residential tenancy questions that you may have.