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The Impacts of COVID-19 on Residential Tenancy Agreements – Don’t Get Caught Out

If you own a property that is subject to a residential tenancy agreement, the Queensland Government has recently introduced some key changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  It is important to be aware of how these changes may impact your rights and obligations as a landlord.

  1. Freeze on evictions for rent arrears caused by COVID-19 impacts

Between 29 March 2020 and 29 September 2020, property owners will not be entitled to evict a tenant if the tenant cannot pay some or all of their rent because they are suffering excessive hardship due to COVID-19.  Property owners may issue the tenant a ‘show cause’ notice for any unpaid rent.

To the extent a property owner and tenant negotiate a new rent amount, the agreement should be formalised in writing.  We recommend discussing this with your property manager.

  1. Extending fixed term tenancies during the COVID-19 pandemic

For residential tenancy agreements due to end on or before 29 September 2020, property owners must offer the tenant an extension of the term to 30 September 2020 (or earlier where requested by the tenant) if the tenant is suffering excessive hardship because of COVID-19.

Following extension, the agreement will continue on the same terms.

  1. Ending tenancies for approved reasons

Property owners can only end a residential tenancy agreement for approved reasons after providing the tenant with the required notice to leave.

During the COVID-19 emergency period, new approved reasons are available for property owners, including:

  • The property owner is preparing to sell the property and the preparation require the property to be vacant
  • The property owner has entered into a contract for sale of the property with vacant possession or
  • The property owner or a member of their immediate family needs to move into the property

Property owners are required to give at least 2 months notice for the above approved reasons and the notice must be in the required form.  We recommend discussing this with your solicitor and property manager.

Property owners are still entitled to end a residential tenancy agreement for existing approved reasons, including serious unremedied breach (such as damage to the property) or failure to pay rent where such failure is not due to COVID-19 hardship.

  1. Restricting landlord’s entry onto premises

 Except where the tenant consents, landlords are prohibited from entering premises for inspections, routine repairs or maintenance, to facilitate a valuation or to show the premises to a prospective buyer where:

  • The tenant or another at the premises is a vulnerable person or subject to a quarantine direction;
  • Where the landlord is subject to a quarantine direction; or
  • Where the landlord’s entry would contravene a public health direction.

If access is prohibited for the reasons set out above, landlords or their agents are permitted to conduct virtual inspections by way of video call, video or exchange of photographs.

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We appreciate this is a very uncertain time.  Please do not hesitate to contact the team at MAP Lawyers if you are buying or selling and you have any queries.

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