A Sunshine Coast landlord will
be forced to discount the rent for his long-term tenants after the Queensland
Civil and Administrative Tribunal ruled he could not prove reducing the rent
would put him at a financial disadvantage.
The ruling by Maroochydore QCAT is believed to be the first of its
kind in Queensland using the temporary tenancy laws introduced to help renters
struggling financially because of the coronavirus crisis.
The tenants, a couple from Warana who had been renting their home
for 10 years, will now pay 30 per cent of their weekly income on rent.
This equates to around $345 a week in rent, a $55 deduction from
the $400 per week they had previously been paying before they lost their income
at the onset of the COVID-19 restrictions.
The discount will apply until their financial situation improves
or until September 29, whichever comes first.
The couple had attempted to have the matter dealt with
conciliation through the Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA), however the
landlord would only offer to defer the rent for between six and 12 months.
A deferral of rent would have meant the couple would accrue a debt
they would be forced to pay back after six or 12 months, even if their
financial situation had not improved.
One of the tenants, who did not wish to be identified because of
her work, toldDomainthat while the rental variation wasn’t
much, it would go some way to helping the couple through a difficult
"We have had to tighten the purse strings,” the tenant said.
The couple had been thrown into tough financial circumstances, she
said, after her husband had been stood down without pay in March, before being
She had been on half-pay after the birth of their first child five
"It has been validating,” the tenant said of the ruling. "But it
was scary going to QCAT and making a case against a property manager who goes
there all the time.”
Tenants Queensland chief executive Penny Carr said the ruling was
the first the organisation had heard of across the state.
She hoped the ruling would give tenants currently going through a
similar process hope they could successfully negotiate a rental discount.
"It should give heart to all the tenants out there,” she said.
A number of QCAT cases dealing with rental issues due to the
coronavirus pandemic were still awaiting a hearing in Brisbane, Ms Carr said.
But not every case went as far as QCAT.
Ms Carr said many cases had been conciliated through the RTA,
which reported assisting with 483 disputes related to COVID-19 (up until May
8). Of these, 87 per cent related to rental arrears.
She said the figures did not detail how these disputes were
settled and she feared many tenants were being pressured into agreements where
they were deferring payment of rent and building up debt.
"We have no idea what the results are,” she said.
It would be particularly concerning later in the year when Job
Keeper and Jobseeker payments ended and the moratorium on evictions was no
longer in law, she said.
"If people’s incomes are reduced again and some people’s are
likely to, we could see a lot of people made homeless and in debt,” Ms Carr
Are you sick of handing
over your income from your investments directly to a Property Manager?
Use RealRenta instead and get your rental income paid directly into your bank account.
Not yet a
subscriber? Join now and get 50% off the normal subscription fees:
Tuesday, 9 June 2020