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Meeting Queensland’s New Housing Standards Amid Property Manager Shortage

By Property Management Accounts

Meeting Queensland’s New Housing Standards Amid Property Manager Shortage

Due to 30% of property managers leaving the industry during and following COVID, there is a shortage of experienced professionals in the industry, many business owners are being forced to hire staff with little experience out of necessity and leaving them with little support and no ongoing training.  

Whenever there is a change to the legislation it is natural to have concerns and ask how it is going to affect you. What is important to ensure is that you have an experienced professional that can navigate through this legislation for you so that you can ensure the best outcome. 

Minimum housing standards aim to ensure all Queensland rental properties are safe, secure and functional.

These new standards came into effect for new tenancies from 1 September 2023, meaning if a tenancy agreement is signed or renewed from this date, the property must meet minimum housing standards. Minimum housing standards will come into effect for all remaining tenancies on 1 September 2024.

We have put together some information below to assist you in better understanding these changes. 

FAQs

What are minimum housing standards?

Minimum housing standards specify that rental properties must:

  • be weatherproof and structurally sound
  • be in good repair, with fixtures and fittings (such as electrical appliances) that are not likely to cause injury through normal use
  • have functioning locks or latches on all external doors and windows that can be reached without a ladder
  • be free from vermin, damp and mould (this does not include cases where the vermin, damp or mould has been caused by the tenant)
  • include curtains or other window coverings, which provide privacy in rooms where the tenant might reasonably expect it, such as bedrooms
  • have adequate plumbing and drainage and be connected to hot and cold water that is suitable for drinking
  • provide privacy in bathroom areas and have flushable toilets connected to a sewer, septic tank or other waste disposal system
  • have a functioning cook-top, if a kitchen is provided
  • include the necessary fixtures for a functional laundry, such as tap fixtures and adequate plumbing, if laundry facilities are provided. The laundry does not have to include a washing machine or other white goods, as these may be provided by the tenant.

What does weatherproof and structurally sound mean? 

Weatherproof means the roofing or windows must prevent water from entering the premises when it rains. Structurally sound means the building must be safe for the tenant to live in. The walls, ceiling and roof must be in good condition. They must not be likely to collapse or be affected by significant dampness. Decks and stairs must also be safe and not affected by rot or defects.

Will all external doors and windows need to have locks or latches for the property to meet minimum housing standards?

To meet minimum housing standards, all external windows and doors at a property will need to have functioning locks or latches to secure the premises against unauthorised entry. This applies only to windows and doors a person outside the premises or room (for rooming accommodation) could access without a ladder.

Each property should be assessed on a case-by-case basis. The main focus should be on ensuring the rental property is secure and that reasonable measures have been taken to meet safety and security requirements under the legislation.

Will every room in the rental property need to have a blind, curtain or other privacy to meet minimum housing standards?

Coverings must be provided in rooms where the tenant might reasonably expect it, such as in bedrooms. Privacy coverings can include blinds, curtains, tinted windows, and glass frosting. Privacy coverings are not required for windows which are blocked from outside view by a fence, hedge, tree or other feature of the property. 

This will potentially require input from a professional to negotiate on your behalf as one tenant’s expectation may not be the same as another.

Who is responsible for mould, damp or vermin during a tenancy?

If mould, damp or vermin appears in a rental property during the tenancy, the tenant should notify the property manager/owner as soon as they are aware of the issue.

If the issue is caused by problems with the structure of the property, the property manager/owner is responsible for fixing it and making any necessary repairs. Examples could include mould caused by a leaking roof or a termite infestation in the walls. The property manager/owner is also responsible for fixing any issues that are caused by reasonable use of the property. Examples would include a leaking shower which cannot be turned off or a stove top that does not work.

If the issue is caused by the actions of the tenant, the tenant is responsible for any necessary repairs. Examples could include mould caused by the tenant allowing steam to build up in a bathroom and not properly ventilating or cleaning the area, or a vermin problem which may have been caused because the actions of the tenant attracted the animals to the property.

What happens if a property does not comply with these standards when they come into effect?

Tenants have a range of options if they believe the rental property they live in does not meet minimum housing standards. 

Option 1 – Tenant can move out within the first 7 days of occupancy – if there is not an agreement about the condition of the property then it can be treated as a break lease however it will most likely result in a dispute and potentially QCAT. 

Option 2 – Tenant applies to QCAT for a termination order on the grounds of misrepresentation within the first 3 months – For a tenant to do this it is treated as a non-urgent application and will require a dispute resolution through the RTA

Option 3 – Tenant requests emergency repairs to the property – Once the legislation has come into effect any repairs that make the property non compliant are deemed as an emergency, this means that they can follow the emergency repair process 

Option 4 – Tenant can make an Urgent application to QCAT for a repair order – In order to apply for this application the tenant must have not been able to notify the nominated repairer or managing party and have not able to arrange a suitable person to carry out the emergency repairs themselves; or the repair has not been completed within a reasonable time frame after the tenants notified the managing party or nominated repairer.

In conclusion, as Queensland’s new minimum housing standards come into effect, property owners and tenants alike face a changing landscape. With the property management industry experiencing a shortage of experienced professionals, it’s essential to adapt to these regulations effectively. Ensuring compliance and addressing potential issues promptly will be crucial for all stakeholders. Whether you’re a property owner, tenant, or a property manager, staying informed and seeking guidance from experienced professionals will be the key to navigating this evolving terrain successfully.

Amber Roberts
Property Management National General Manager
The Ray White Surfers Paradise Group


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