When it comes to your investment, it can be hard to know exactly how your property stacks up against state tenancy laws. It’s not a walk in the park sifting through those government web pages, trying to figure out what you can and can’t do and what your responsibilities are. The whole thing can be a real hassle. Plus, who’s to say you didn’t accidentally overlook some important regulation, and now your investment property is legally out of touch, maybe even unsafe?
Well, we went ahead and did the nitty-gritty for you. Think of this article as your Reader’s Digest on all the things you need to know about the minimum standards for rental properties in QLD.
We’ve covered all the essentials:
- QLD legislation
- What makes a property uninhabitable
- How to comply with smoke alarm, pool, and utility regulations
No owner wants to get tied up with the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal over some preventable dispute with their tenant. So, consider this article your stay out of QCAT free card.
Minimum housing standards QLD
Unlike NSW and Victoria, Queensland doesn’t have a defined list of rental property minimum standards. But that may all change soon. The Queensland parliament is right in the middle of reviewing the Housing Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 that aims to enact a number of reforms. One of which would cover minimum housing standards.
But until that happens, it’s the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 that gives the orders. As such, owners should ensure that at the start of a tenancy:
- The premises and inclusions are in clean condition
- The property is fit for living in
- The property and inclusions are in good repair
- They (the owner) aren’t breaching any law to do with the health or safety of persons entering or using the property
And during a tenancy, owners must:
- Maintain the property in a condition fit for the tenant to live in
- Ensure the property and inclusions remain in good repair
- Comply with any law concerned with the health and safety of persons entering and using the property
- Keep the common area clean (if the property has one)
If you’re scratching your head trying to make sense of the legislation, don’t worry, we know it’s a bit vague. (Exactly why the state is trying to pass the new bill). However, there have been a few minor reforms that have recently been written into the Queensland Tenancy Laws that may offer a bit more clarity.
Safety and security:
- Changes to the property, such as door locks or handrails, which ensure tenant safety and health, can be made without consent from the owner
- The property should be structurally sound, weatherproof, and meet the minimum standards for plumbing, drainage, fixtures, security, pests, vermin, lighting, ventilation, and food preparation facilities. Otherwise, maintenance should be carried out ASAP, with a reduced rent put in place until repairs have occurred.
Renting with pets:
Tenants looking to rent with a pet can no longer be unreasonably refused. However, a pet bond may be enacted to cover for any pet-induced damage.
Termination of tenancy:
Owners now require reasonable cause to evict tenants (e.g. moving into the property, selling the property, or breach of contract).
What makes a property uninhabitable QLD?
Another helpful piece of info to supplement the pretty broad wording of the legislation is knowing what makes a property uninhabitable. This should give you a better idea of what your obligations are as an owner.
A property is unfit for habitation when it:
- “is fully, or partially, destroyed (e.g. due to natural disaster)”
- “can no longer be used lawfully as a residence (e.g. building is condemned)”
However, the state makes clear that “the unliveability of a property must be considered on a case-by-case basis.” As well, the tenancy does not automatically end once the property is declared unliveable – one of 4 things have to happen first. Either:
- The owner/property manager and tenant agree to end the tenancy in writing,
- The tenant provides the owner/property manager with a Notice of intention to leave or Resident leaving form,
- The owner/property manager provides the tenants with a Notice to leave, OR
- QCAT issues an order
Smoke Alarm Legislation QLD
When it comes to camping or festivals like Burning Man, you can’t go wrong with a bit of flame. But the last thing you want is a festival-sized bonfire right where your investment property is meant to be. Exactly why the QLD government has been rolling out some new smoke alarm legislation as of late.
You’re twice as likely to die in a home fire if your property doesn’t have a working smoke alarm
The recent Fire and Emergency Services (Domestic Smoke Alarms) Amendment Act 2016 (Qld), has meant that as of January 1 2017, owners are required to:
- Clean and test each smoke alarm on the premises within 30 days of starting a new tenancy
- Refrain from removing a smoke alarm or its battery (unless replacing it), or do anything that may reduce the alarm’s effectiveness (e.g. painting it)
- Replace smoke alarms manufactured more than 10 years ago
- Immediately replace smoke alarms that fail to operate when tested
- Install only photoelectric smoke alarms that comply with Australian Standard (AS) 3786-2014
- Replace hardwired smoke alarms (that require replacing) with hardwired photoelectric smoke alarms
But that’s not all. There will be some new QLD smoke alarm legislation introduced on January 1st 2022. So, on top of the above, owners should ensure that smoke alarms:
- Are photoelectric and do not also contain an ionisation sensor
- Are less the 10 years old
- Allow for successful testing
- Are interconnected with all other smoke alarms on the premises
- Are either hardwired or powered by a non-removable 10-year battery
- Are installed on each storey, in every bedroom, in hallways connecting bedrooms and the rest of the dwelling
- Are installed (at least one) along the most trafficked path used to exit the premises (for storeys with no bedrooms or hallways)
Pool Legislation QLD
Before anyone can go wading into your pool and start soaking up the warm summer sun, there are a few things you need to check off before you’re in the legal green to do so.
Barriers and fencing
Pool fences must comply with the Queensland Development Code MP 3.4-Swimming pool barriers, which stipulates, among other things, that:
- Fences should have a height of no less than 1200mm
- Fences less than 1800mm should be at least 900mm away from any climbable objects
- Gates to the pool must open outwards and also be self-closing and self-latching
- Gate latches should be at least 1500mm from the ground, and a minimum of 1400mm from the lower horizontal member
- Repairs must be made immediately if the fence of barrier is damaged in any way
The list goes on, of course. You can find a full rundown of the barrier requirements over at the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC).
Think all these precautions are a bit overkill? Well, let’s put it this way: in 2016-17 not one child drowned in a pool that was compliant with fencing and latched gate requirements!
Lounging by the poolside can wait. Instead, ensure your tenant’s safety by checking out the QBCC interactive compliance list to see if your pool is checking off all the boxes.
CPR and Warning Signs
The state is a stickler for pool signages. So, we’d recommend checking out the government website for the full list of what you have to do. But some of the main points are:
- A CPR sign must be displayed prominently on the pool’s safety barrier or near the pool
- A CPR sign must be at least 300mm x 300mm in size and made from durable, weatherproof material
- When constructing a pool, a warning sign should make clear that the pool is under construction and poses a danger to young children who may access the land
- Warnings signs should be visible from the road and be written in bold text at least 50mm high
Registration and certification:
One way or another, if your property has a pool or an outdoor spa, you’ll need to register it with the QBCC. Don’t do this, and you could face an unsightly fine. If you’re not sure whether your pool is already registered, you can check on the pool register.
Unlike owner-occupied properties, leased properties need to acquire a pool safety certificate before starting a tenancy agreement. You can do this by hopping online and finding a licensed inspector who can give you the seal of approval which will see you out for 1 year.
And be sure you provide a copy of your safety certificate (or, Notice of no pool safety certificate) to:
- The tenant
- The owner of the pool (usually a body corporate)
If you’re unsure about whether your spa falls under these laws, just take stock. Is your spa:
- Capable of holding 300 millimetres or more water
- Fitted with a filtration system
- Capable of holding 2000 litres of water or more
If ‘yes’ is the answer to all these, then the same rules apply for it as they do for pools.
Utilities Legislation QLD
If you want to avoid a long, drawn-out discussion where you’re vying with your tenant over who owes who what for the utility bill, then it’s best just to get it straight from the beginning, right?
Here’s the black and white of what you and your tenant should know going into a tenancy.
Electricity, gas, phone and internet: The law makes pretty clear that owners can opt to pass on the utility costs to the tenant, provided:
- The tenancy agreement stipulates that the tenant will pay for these costs, and
- The tenancy agreement states how these costs are to be calculated
Importantly, you can’t charge your tenant more than the amount billed by the service supplier.
And in the case of shared accommodation where there are multiple tenants, they are jointly responsible for the electricity, phone, internet, gas and water costs that occupants are normally liable for. It’s just a matter of the co-tenants deciding among themselves how the costs will be shared.
Water: The state is big on meterage here. So, if you’re wanting to let your tenant foot the water bill, then just ensure that:
- The property is individually metered, and
- The tenancy agreement indicates the tenant will pay for their water consumption, and
- The property meets water efficiency standards
But know that owners have to pay for the sewerage and fixed access charges themselves.
Solar power: Because solar power carries the potential for a rebate where your property receives a concession against its electricity consumption, it’s a good idea to negotiate with your tenant from the beginning how the bill will be charged.
You can pop on over to the RTA website to have a look at some of your options. Here a couple of examples:
Property owner has the electricity account in their name. They pay the bill and ask the tenant to reimburse them the full amount minus the rebate (e.g. $400 bill, minus $150 rebate = $250 payable by the tenant).
Property owner has the electricity account in their name. They pay the bill and agree to pass on part of the rebate to the tenant (e.g. $400 bill, $150 rebate, the property owner agrees to pass on 50 per cent of the rebate = $325 payable by the tenant.
From minimum housing standards to smoke alarms and pool regulations - it might seem all a bit much to follow. A good reason to consider bringing a property manager on board to take the pressure off you. But, one way or another, staying on top of all your real estate responsibilities is way better than potentially facing a tonne of legal backlash for not doing so.
Want to stay up-to-date with all things real estate?
Subscribe to our FREE quarterly newsletter for the best property content on the internet!
Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is for general informational purposes only. All information is provided in good faith; however, we do not account for specific situations, facts or circumstances. As such, we make no representation or warranty of any kind whatsoever, express or implied, regarding the accuracy, adequacy, validity, reliability, availability or completeness of any information presented.
This blog may also contain links to other sites or content belonging to or originating from third parties. We do not investigate or monitor such external links for accuracy, adequacy, validity, reliability, availability or completeness, and therefore, we shall not be liable and/or held responsible for any information contained therein.