Property becomes unliveable
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A property becomes unliveable when it:
is fully, or partially, destroyed (e.g. due to a natural disaster)
can no longer be used lawfully as a residence (e.g. building is condemned) – contact the relevant authority (e.g. local council) for more information.
The unliveability of a property must be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Are you a property manager? The handy REIQ Disaster Toolkit may answer some of your questions.
Ending the tenancy
A tenancy does not automatically end when a property is declared unliveable.
A tenancy agreement will only end if one of the following happens, the:
property manager/owner and tenant agree in writing
tenant gives the property manager/owner a Notice of intention to leave (Form 13), or Resident leaving form (Form R13) for rooming accommodation, on the grounds of non-liveability
the property manager/owner gives the tenant a Notice to leave (Form 12) or Notice to leave (Form R12) for rooming accommodation on the grounds of non-liveability, or
QCAT makes an order
The agreement ends the date it is given. However, the person giving the notice may choose a longer notice period.
Tenant wants to stay
Sometimes the tenant may feel it is better to stay in the property even if it is partially destroyed. This should be negotiated with the property manager/owner. Health and safety issues should be considered when making this decision.
Until a notice is given, the tenant is responsible for paying the rent in full (even if they have been evacuated from the property).
The rent may be reduced if the property is damaged or if some of the facilities (e.g. car park, pool, laundry) are unavailable. This is determined on a case-by-case basis.
Rent reductions may occur when:
services, facilities or goods to be provided under the agreement are no longer available (not because of a breach), or
the amenity or standard of the property decreases substantially
The decrease can be negotiated and should be put in writing.
The tenant may want to leave the property and return after the damage has been repaired. Any agreement to waive the rent during that period should be put in writing.
The property manager/owner and tenant can decide to terminate the agreement and sign a new agreement after repairs are completed. The terms of the new agreement would need to be negotiated and would not necessarily be the same as the old agreement, including the rent amount.
After a natural disaster, property managers/owners and tenants should talk to each other as soon as possible to discuss the state of the property and work out if any action needs to be taken.
The property manager/owner is responsible for any maintenance and repairs needed to bring the property back to a liveable condition (including fences, gardens and pools). These repairs need to comply with health and safety laws.
The tenant is responsible for removing or cleaning their possessions.
It is usually the property manager/owner’s responsibility to organise and pay for repairs. They should negotiate with the tenant to find a suitable time for the repairs to be done, entry rules apply.
The rental market can become competitive after a natural disaster but the rent cannot be increased outside the normal rules for rent increases.
The property owner or manager is not allowed to evict the tenant in favour of another tenant who will pay higher rent. Heavy penalties apply.
Disputes about liveability
Sometimes the tenant and property manager/owner may not agree about the liveability of the property. If they are unable to agree by talking to each other, they may apply for dispute resolution.
If everyone wishes to continue an agreement in a property that is damaged, a rent reduction might be negotiated instead of declaring it unliveable.
Getting the bond back
Bond processing with the RTA could be affected if postal services are disrupted by natural disasters. Contact us for information on extended processing times.