State plans to backdate eviction ban

LANDLORDS could be forced to use debt collectors to chase unpaid rent after the Queensland Government said it would backdate new laws to save tenants from eviction for six months.

The eviction freeze is designed to help tenants who have lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19 shutdowns.

Landlords still have the legal right to kick out tenants who fail to pay their rent, as the Sate Government has not yet changed the law.


But Queensland Housing Minister Mick de Brenni said a moratorium on evictions would be "retrospective''.

"The Palaszczuk government is taking swift action to implement this freeze on evictions,'' he told The Sunday-Mail.

"Neither landlords or tenants are to blame for this, and now is the time for tenants to have a chat to their landlords about how they can work through this process and get out to the other side of this pandemic with a roof over their head.''


Queensland Housing Minister Mick de Brenni says the eviction ban will be backdated. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Queensland Housing Minister Mick de Brenni says the eviction ban will be backdated. Picture: Alix Sweeney


Mr de Brenni did not answer The Sunday-Mail's question about whether landlords would be compensated for loss of rent, and did not give a date for the retrospective eviction ban.

The moratorium may force landlords to use debt collectors to recoup unpaid rent.

Mr de Brenni called on banks to give "mortgage relief'' to landlords during the six-month eviction ban.

He said landlords and tenants should make written agreements to lower or defer rents.

 "Both tenants and the property managers will be expected to honour the arrangements they have negotiated,'' he said.

The Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) has drawn up a form letter to notify landlords when a tenant asks for a reduction or freeze in rental payments.

"Please keep in mind that a no eviction moratorium has been announced, meaning that tenants cannot be evicted as a result of financial distress caused by COVID-19 for a maximum period of 6 months,'' it says.


The REIQ letter conflicts with advice from the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT), which says that despite the moratorium announcement, "no laws relating to the rights and liabilities of residential landlords and tenants have been repealed or amended at this point in time''.

"Accordingly, QCAT continues to apply the law as it stands, and QCAT's process for tenancy matters has not changed,'' it states on its website.

"If and when new laws come into effect, QCAT will immediately apply them as appropriate.''

Federal Housing Minister Michael Sukkar said on Thursday that the moratorium means "holding off from payments, not a cancellation''.

"If you can't pay your rent now, you have been given grace for six months, but will have to catch up when you are able to pay it again,'' he said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared on Friday that tenants must continue to pay rent.

"People are responsible for their rents but there is a moratorium on evictions,'' he said.

"We won't have anyone thrown out of their homes.''

Originally published as State plans to backdate eviction ban