Meth in Brisbane Rental Properties – what are your obligations as a Landlord?

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Meth in Brisbane Rental Properties – what are your obligations as a Landlord?

Particularly following a recent article on television, there is increasing discussion within the Brisbane property management community about contamination from Amphetamines and Methylamphetamines (commonly referred to as “speed”, “ice” or “meth”) in rental properties.

While this is clearly a very important issue with growing awareness, there have been rumours of changed legislation – this is not the case as at today.  The RTA feedback we were advised of in recent months is that there are no plans to make testing of rental properties for meth/drug labs compulsory under tenancy law. However, that does not mean that a Lessor does not have obligations in relation to this matter – merely that no new legislation has passed.

Here is what you need to know regarding a Lessor’s obligations under the RTRA Act, which covers this matter in general terms:

RESIDENTIAL TENANCIES AND ROOMING ACCOMMODATION ACT 2008 – SECT 185

185 Lessor’s obligations generally

(1) This section does not apply to an agreement if—

(a) the premises are moveable dwelling premises consisting only of the site for the dwelling; and

(b) the tenancy is a long tenancy (moveable dwelling).

(2) At the start of the tenancy, the lessor must ensure—

(a) the premises and inclusions are clean; and

(b) the premises are fit for the tenant to live in; and

(c) the premises and inclusions are in good repair; and

(d) the lessor is not in breach of a law dealing with issues about the health or safety of persons using or entering the premises; and

(e) the premises and inclusions otherwise comply with any prescribed minimum housing standards applying to the premises or inclusions.

(3) While the tenancy continues, the lessor

(a) must maintain the premises in a way that the premises remain fit for the tenant to live in; and

(b) must maintain the premises and inclusions in good repair; and

(c) must ensure any law dealing with issues about the health or safety of persons using or entering the premises is complied with; and

(d) if the premises include a common area—must keep the area clean; and

(e) must ensure the premises and inclusions otherwise comply with any prescribed minimum housing standards applying to the premises or inclusions.

Example: See section 217 for the tenant’s obligations to notify the lessor about damage to premises and the need for repairs.

(4) However, the lessor is not required to comply with subsection (2) (c) or (3) (a) for fixtures attached to premises, and inclusions supplied with premises, (the
“non-standard items” ) if—

(a) the lessor is—

(i) the State; or

(ii) the replacement lessor under a community housing provider tenancy agreement; and

(b) the non-standard items are specified in the agreement and the agreement states the lessor is not responsible for their maintenance; and

(c) the non-standard items are not necessary and reasonable to make the premises a fit place in which to live; and

(d) the non-standard items are not a risk to health or safety; and

(e) for fixtures—the fixtures were not attached to the premises by the lessor.

(5) In this section—

“premises” include any common area available for use by the tenant with the premises.

Tenants also have obligations, and to manufacture illicit substances in a rental property is a breach of the RTRA Act, for which termination of tenancy and compensation for costs can be sought.  Naturally it is also a criminal offence!

Standard Term 21 Tenant’s use of premises – ss 10 and 184

(1) The tenant may use the premises only as a place of residence or mainly as a place of residence or for another use allowed under a special term.

(2) The tenant must not –

(a) use the premises for an illegal purpose; or

(b) cause a nuisance by the use of the premises; or

Examples of things that may constitute a nuisance –

  • using paints or chemicals on the premises that go onto or cause odours on adjoining land
  • causing loud noises
  • allowing large amounts of water to escape onto adjoining land (c) interfere with the reasonable peace, comfort or privacy of a neighbour of the tenant; or

(d) allow another person on the premises to interfere with the reasonable peace, comfort or privacy of a neighbour of the tenant.

There are also other clauses of a lease that may be found to have been breached.

So, what does this mean for a Landlord or Property Manager in Queensland?

The residual contamination arising from illicit drug manufacture poses a serious safety risk to a person’s health, as well as the environment.

During the manufacturing process of illicit drugs, toxic gasses and aerosols are produced. Chemicals can be present in the air and then contamination remains due to the absorption of chemicals in surfaces such as flooring, walls, and fittings.

Exposure to this residual chemical contamination can then potentially result in illness, with symptoms such as throat irritation, breathing difficulties, headaches, skin conditions, and mental health problems. In Queensland, under the Public Health Act 2005, chemical contamination of this type is deemed a public health risk.

With clean-up costs being expensive, the bond paid is unlikely to cover the costs if a full clean-up is required.  A QCAT application may be made to seek compensation from the tenant, or landlord insurance may cover the costs.

What can you do as a Landlord?

  • Have a comprehensive landlord insurance policy
  • Ensure you have the best property managers Brisbane has! The days of property managers being ‘just rent collectors’ is long-gone. The role of a property manager has become complex and requires specialist skills and training. Thorough routine inspections, and detailed property application processing are just two examples of processes that need to be done well. Prevention is definitely better than cure!

Are Beyond Property Management the best property managers in Brisbane? We think so – read our reviews to see client opinions, or call us for a chat!

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