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Upcoming Rental Law Changes – Rent Increases

What you need to know now

The Queensland Government passed legislation, quite obscurely under the Local Government Electoral and Other Legislation (Expenditure Caps) Amendment Act 2023. It specifically amends the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 concerning limiting rent increases.

Essentially the legislation provides that landlords are not permitted to increase rent in respect of tenancies or renewed tenancies, such that rent increases are more than once every 12 months.

This legislation takes effect from 1 July 2023 and will apply retrospectively to Agreements entered into before that date. For Agreements entered into prior to 1 July 2023, any provisions for increases to rent less than 12 months before the previous increase will no longer be valid. Accordingly, for those who are renting, they should be vigilant in ensuring that landlords do not attempt to increase rent less than 12 months before the last increase in rent. If the landlord persists in doing so, then you as tenant are entitled to apply to the Queensland Civil Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) to be relieved of the rent increase, by virtue of the new legislation.

The effect of the legislation can be shown in the following scenarios:

Scenario 1:

A Tenancy Agreement that presently exists which provides for an increase in rent in June 2023, which increase is less than 12 months before the previous increase in rent. This provision is still valid as the amendments have not taken effect.

Scenario 2:

Before 1 July 2023 a landlord and tenants renew a Lease commencing say October 2023 and it provides for a rent increase in December when the previous rent increase was April 2023 under the previous Lease. Even though it is a renewed Lease, provided that at least one of the tenants under the old Lease remain on the renewed Lease, then the amended legislation applies. Accordingly, the provision for the increase in rent less than 12 months from the previous rent increase is invalid.

Landlords must be aware that it is an offence for a landlord to deliberately try to evade, defeat or prevent the operation of the new provisions. Accordingly, if landlords consider that they have some means by which they can avoid the legislation, they should first seek advice as to whether it is truly outside of the amending legislation.

As for renters, as referred to above, be vigilant about any terms which provide for rent increases less than 12 months apart.

There have been reported concerns about landlords attempting to evade the new provisions, apparently legally, by having tenants enter into 6 monthly tenancies, terminating that tenancy and putting in new tenants. However, the Housing Minister has stated that they are aware of these potential means of avoiding the legislation. It can be assumed, therefore, that before the legislation comes into force on 1 July 2023, the Government will consider further amendments to prevent the intent of the legislative changes from taking effect. According, as and from 1 July 2023, it will be prudent for landlords to seek advice as to the legislative changes that are actually made to take effect from 1 July 2023, in case there have been some further changes and tightening of the legislation.

RMO Law strongly recommends either renters or landlords seek legal advice from us as to the effect of any legislative changes that take effect from 1 July 2023.

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This article is for your information and interest only. It is not intended to be comprehensive, and it does not constitute and must not be relied on as legal advice. You must seek specific advice tailored to your circumstances.

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