Queensland tenancy law - the removal of without grounds provision
The Queensland Government released stage one of the proposed amendments to the RTRA Act 16th November, 2019. I have been keeping a running blog since the laws were first looked at being changed in 2012. View the blog, history, developments and more here.In this blog, I am addressing one of the five proposed changes relating to the removal of without grounds provisions to end a tenancy in Queensland. Listen to podcast on this matter here.
Watch a short video regarding proposed removal of the without grounds to end a tenancy provision here.
8th December 2019 - Part of Real Estate Excellence submission regarding the proposed removal of without grounds.
Anyone is welcome to copy/paste and make any of your own final edits as part of your own submission. Feel free to share this post if you see public and industry benefit.
The solution to the minority of lessors who the Government call the ‘retaliatory and revenge eviction’ is to introduce a penalty unit provision if a tenant is provided a without ground notice in breach of section 291, with section 292 allowing for tenant to make complaint to the RTA if there is an alleged breach of the lessor.
Of my review and knowledge of all QCAT published decisions and appeals during the last ten years, my understanding is there are three known cases that involve retaliatory eviction. Not all decisions and appeals are published. It is an indication the matter of lessors giving a notice to leave in breach of section 291 may not be as widespread as stated by Government in the Regulatory Impact Statement, media statements and social media posts.
17th November 2019
We have been 'fighting' the removal' of the investor/lessor right to have no reason to end a tenancy agreement for at least 20 years. For fear of being political, my understanding is the reason it has not been removed before now, is due to predominantly LNP Governments in Queensland. It appears to be a common Labor policy for the provision to be removed. The Labor Government of Queensland have, and continue to be emotive in their language regarding a 'tenant right to have a home'. I am confident I can speak for the vast majority of investors, property agents and managers when I say they too want tenants to enjoy their home, and to have a home. In every industry, in every sector, there are rogue and unethical people. Most people in the real estate and property management plus investment sector, are good hearted, hard working people. The Housing Minister on 16th November 2019 during media interviews stated that it is the minority of people who do the wrong thing. The reality is yes, of course tenants, being human beings, like all people have a right to a home. The fact is it is not their home, or investment. They are paying to rent a property and do not carry any risk, costs, obligations and more for that property. It is the investor/lessor's property.
When the RTRA Act review was announced in 2018, I personally got quite emotionally involved and impassioned regarding the without grounds removal proposal, and lobbied industry vigorously to get on board, make submissions, plus tried to invoke media attention. Due to above apparent policies of Labor, I had almost resigned myself to the possiblity that the sector has lost the 'fight'.
Queensland will go to election October 2020. Labor Government have the numbers in Parliament to pass this provision (the actual bill has not been released). If the bill is introduced to Parliament in time, it most likely will pass. It would take a number of Labor Members of Parliament to 'cross the floor' and vote against the Labor Policy.
The bill has not been released, and as per my running blog, the Consultation Regulatory Impact Statement has only been released with a six week consultation period. The bill comes next. IT IS NOT TOO LATE to try to stop this fundamental investor right to end a tenancy without reason. It must be further noted that as part of stage 2 of the RTRA Act review, it has been stated as part of the consultation below that future legislation will look at regulating rent increases.
The removal of without grounds has long been an emotive topic; it hits to the core of the right of a person who owns a product/property to make a decision about what they can do with their property. Government interference is feared, and most people are fearful of Government taking away fundamental rights, plus concerned, that Government continue to place so many burdens on the property investor whilst not contributing to serious social issues such as public housing.
In recent years, there have been many regulatory burdens imposed on property investors, including increased smoke alarm legislation. Whilst it is difficult to argue the most important priority, which is the safety of people, it is also becoming increasingly difficult to swallow the increased regulatory burdens imposed. Part of the stage one review includes the introduction of minimum housing standards for Queensland rental property. This matter has been on the Government radar and agenda since 2012, as discussed at length at my blog. It is currently proposed for a two year transistion and implementation of the standards. Another regulatory burden, and at the point of writing this blog, the details of what the standards are going to be are not known. As noted below in my past submission as part of the review in 2018; the removal of without grounds is not needed as the tenant is protected through current law with rights to dispute a notice to leave without grounds. Further regulatory burden is not needed.
Anyone reading this blog are welcome to review my submission from 2018 (below) and copy, paste, make any edits they see fit and give feedback to the Government here. Keep it simple; tenants are already protected due to current legislation. Investors, agents and managers are encouraged to also consider contacting their local state member and voice/write your concerns. Of the 135000 responses the Government received as part of the review period in 2018, 2% came from property managers, with 18% being owners, and 79% coming from tenants. (sourced from "A better renting future Reform Roadmap"). I encourage all to have their say NOW.
For more information regarding what is proposed regarding the removal of without grounds, click here.
22nd October 2018
Section 291 of the RTRA Act clearly sets out when a notice to leave without reason cannot be given to a tenant.
Section 292 protects tenants who believe a lessor has contravened the provision.
Therefore, there is no need to add increased legislation unnecessarily.
Investors should always have the right to lawfully terminate a tenancy without reason. If investors comply with legislation, a lessor should have the right of possession without having to state a reason. Tenants are protected if lessors act outside the legislation. This is fair and balanced for all parties.
291 Notice to leave without ground
(1) The lessor may give a notice to leave the premises to the tenant without stating a ground for the notice.
(2) However, the lessor must not give a notice to leave under this section because—
(a) the tenant has applied, or is proposing to apply, to a tribunal for an order under this Act; or
(b) the tenant—
(i) has complained to a government entity about an act or omission of the lessor adversely affecting the tenant; or
(ii) has taken some other action to enforce the tenant’s rights; or
(c) an order of a tribunal is in force in relation to the lessor and tenant.
(3) Also, the lessor may not give a notice to leave under this section if the giving of the notice constitutes taking retaliatory action against the tenant.
(4) A notice to leave under this section is called a notice to leave without ground.
Editor’s note— See sections 329(2)(j) (Handover day for notice to leave for premises that are not moveable dwelling premises) and 330(2)(l) (Handover day for notice to leave for moveable dwelling premises) for requirements about the handover day for a notice to leave given without ground for a periodic agreement.
292 Application to tribunal about notice to leave without ground
(1) This section applies if—
(a) the tenant is given a notice to leave without ground; and
(b) the tenant reasonably believes the notice was given in contravention of section 291.
(2) The tenant may apply to a tribunal for an order to set aside the notice.
(3) The application must be made within 4 weeks after the notice was given.
(4) On an application under this section, the tribunal may make the order sought if it is satisfied the notice was given in contravention of section 291.
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0423 018 539