Rules to protect tenants from being kicked out if they could not pay rent amid the COVID-19 crisis had been invalid for weeks because of a bizarre legal bungle.
Rules to protect tenants from being kicked out if they could not pay rent amid the COVID-19 crisis had been invalid for weeks because of a bizarre legal bungle.

Tenancy law bungle leaves renters unprotected for weeks

RULES meant to protect tenants from being kicked out of their homes if they could not pay their rent amid the COVID-19 crisis had been invalid for weeks because of a bizarre legal bungle.

The Government has been forced to clean up the mess, passing new laws yesterday to validate two of its COVID-19 response regulations - blaming an administrative oversight for the unusual error.

The regulations included a moratorium on evictions for tenants if they had failed to pay their rent and had suffered from excessive hardship because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

New laws passed yesterday mean any actions made by tenants and property owners relying on the regulation will now be deemed lawful - even if the action was taken before the regulation was validated under the new laws.

Another impacted regulation, which has also been validated under the new laws, changed the requirements and arrangements for the making, signing and witnessing of various legal documents. This included oaths, deeds and particular mortgages. Any actions taken while relying on the regulation before it was validated will also be deemed lawful.

The regulations were meant to be tabled within 14 calendar days, but the tabling of both regulations fell outside of the timeframe.

A Housing Department spokeswoman yesterday said the Government had acted swiftly to correct the "administrative oversight".

A Housing Department spokeswoman said the Government had acted swiftly to correct the “administrative oversight”. Pic Mark Calleja
A Housing Department spokeswoman said the Government had acted swiftly to correct the “administrative oversight”. Pic Mark Calleja

"While made by Governor in Council and notified as required, the regulation was not tabled within 14 calendar days of being notified as required under the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act 2020," she said.

The spokeswoman confirmed that laws passed yesterday included a proposed amendment that would mean that the regulation was taken to have been "validly made, notified and tabled and continues to have effect".

"When the Bill is assented to, this means that actions in reliance on the Regulation are taken to have been lawfully done," she said.

Housing Minister Mick de Brenni's office also confirmed no concerns had been raised by landlords and renters about the regulation.

"This is not an issue and will not impact any Queensland tenancy agreement whatsoever," Mr de Brenni said in a statement.

Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath said it had been "purely an administrative error".

"We've made sure that all agencies and the table office understand now to make it very clear when the documents are provided whether they're due for tabling that day…," she said.

"It's unfortunate it happened. I'm certainly not going to criticise anyone, but it's going to be rectified."

Ms D'Ath said she believed the error had initially been identified by a parliamentary committee before the Government "immediately" put in measures to rectify it.

LNP housing spokesman Michael Hart described the bungle as an "embarrassing legal blunder".

"Annastacia Palaszczuk's laws were supposed to provide certainty for renters and property investors but have done the exact opposite," he said.

Originally published as Tenancy law bungle leaves renters unprotected for weeks


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