Residential tenancy disputes

Learn about residential tenancy disputes and the application process.


Changes to tenancy laws

From 1 October 2022, the following tenancy laws took effect:

  • a framework to negotiate renting with pets
  • changes to approved reasons for ending a tenancy
  • changes to QCAT repair order provisions

Changes relating to minimum housing standards will take effect from 1 September 2023. Further information relating to this change will be made available on the QCAT website closer to the date.

For further information about the tenancy law changes, please visit the Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA) website.


Parties experiencing domestic and family violence

If you have concerns about your wellbeing or safety, QCAT can support you in this regard.

A person can also apply for a non-publication order to ask QCAT to make an order preventing the disclosure of particular personal details and/or documents to certain people. QCAT can also support you to attend a QCAT hearing if you have concerns during the process.

Please visit this page for further information on how QCAT can help you if you are experiencing domestic and/or family violence.


What do I need to know about residential tenancy disputes?

QCAT considers a wide range of cases related to residential tenancies. Before you start the residential tenancy dispute process, it is important to know which cases QCAT considers.

Urgent tenancy disputes can be brought straight to QCAT, without the need to first attempt to resolve the dispute through the RTA.

The following are considered urgent tenancy disputes:

  • ending a residential tenancy or rooming accommodation agreement for reasons such as:
    • repeated breaches
    • excessive hardship
    • objectionable behaviour
    • property damage or injury to a person
    • abandoned premises
    • warrant of possession
  • retaliatory action (commenced 1 October 2022)
  • handling of abandoned goods or documents
  • emergency repairs (commenced 1 October 2022)
  • extension of time to comply with a repair order (commenced 1 October 2022)
  • proposed or existing tenancy database listings
  • entry to the premises
  • caravan park issues such as:
    • excluding a person
    • changing park rules
    • relocation within the park
  • rooming accommodation issues such as:
    • house rules
    • ending of agreements
    • abandoned goods
    • entry to the premises
  • domestic violence issues
  • determining if an agreement is covered under the Residential Rooming and Accommodation Act 2008

Non-urgent tenancy disputes must first go through the RTA dispute resolution process. If the dispute cannot be resolved or is not suitable for conciliation, the RTA will issue you with a Notice of Unresolved Dispute (NURD).

If you wish to come to QCAT for a decision, you must attach a copy of the NURD with your Form 2 – residential tenancy application when you apply below.

The majority of residential tenancy disputes are considered non-urgent within the meaning of the legislation, and include but are not limited to:

  • dispute about a rental bond
  • general dispute between parties
  • breach of a conciliation agreement
  • general dispute between sub-tenants and head tenants
  • pets in rental properties (commenced 1 October 2022)
  • misrepresentation (commenced 1 October 2022)
  • termination due to serious breach (commenced 1 October 2022)
  • routine repair orders (commenced 1 October 2022)

From 1 October 2022, tenants or residents who wish to keep pets at a rental property should ask their landlord or provider for permission to keep the pets before coming to QCAT with a dispute.

If a dispute arises about pets and you have been issued with a notice to refuse keeping pets at a rental property, you must go to the RTA first for conciliation. If the dispute is not resolved and you wish to come to QCAT for a decision, you must attach a copy of the NURD with your Form 2 – residential tenancy application when you apply below.

The RTA has developed comprehensive fact sheets, videos, webinars and quick guides to assist you with understanding the new laws about keeping pets in rental properties.

You can find further information about pets in rental properties and the RTA dispute resolution process here.

If a body corporate committee refuses a request to keep pet/s in a rental property under a body corporate because it contravenes a body corporate by-law, please refer to the BCCM website for further details.

If you disagree with park rules or license conditions relating to the keeping of pets in a manufactured home park, please refer to the QCAT webpage on resolving manufactured home park disputes for further details.


If you have pets kept at a rental property before 1 October 2022 – transitional arrangements

If a landlord or provider has already approved the keeping of pet/s at a rental property before 1 October 2022, that agreement remains in place (unless both parties agree to end the agreement).

Condition/s associated with previous approvals to keep a pet before 1 October 2022 will also generally remain in place (unless the condition would be considered unreasonable).

Renters or their representatives can apply for a QCAT order for routine or emergency repairs to a rental property.

Emergency repairs

Emergency repairs are works needed for any of the following:

  • burst water service or serious water service leak
  • blocked or broken toilet system
  • serious roof leak
  • gas leak
  • dangerous electrical fault
  • flooding or serious flood damage
  • serious storm, fire or impact damage
  • failure or breakdown of gas, electricity or water supply to a premises
  • failure or breakdown of an essential service or appliance for hot water, cooking or heating
  • fault or damage that makes a premises unsafe or insecure
  • fault or damage likely to injure a person, damage property or unduly inconvenience a tenant of premises
  • serious fault in a staircase, lift or other common area of a premises that unduly inconveniences a tenant in gaining access to, or using, the premises


Routine repairs

Routine repairs are those which are not listed in the above list of emergency repairs.

Routine repairs are non-urgent tenancy disputes. You will need to go to RTA for conciliation before coming to QCAT about routine repair orders


Tribunal considerations

Factors that QCAT must consider in an application for a repair order include:

  • conduct of the rental provider and agent
  • risk of injury that the damage is likely to cause a person at the rental property
  • loss of amenity due to the damage

Until a repair order is complied with, the repair order:

  • continues to apply to the rental property
  • does not end when any residential tenancy agreement comes to an end

QCAT must give a copy of any repair orders to the RTA.


Lessor’s agent and emergency repairs

The lessor’s agent may:

  • arrange for a suitably qualified person to carry out emergency repairs to the rental property (if repairs are not likely to cost more than the emergency repair limit in the tenancy agreement). The emergency repair limit is the amount that would be payable under the tenancy agreement for 4 weeks’ rent.
  • pay for emergency repairs - the agent may make deductions from rent payments up to the cost of repairs before rent payments go into the lessor’s account.

If the lessor’s agent does any of the above, the agent must inform the lessor as soon as practicable.


Tenants and emergency repairs

If a tenant arranges for emergency repairs, they may require the lessor to:

  • reimburse them for any amount they properly incurred
  • pay for the cost of repairs directly to the actual repairer.

Emergency repair limit

From 1 October 2022 the emergency repair limit, or maximum amount that a tenant or lessor’s agent may incur for the cost of emergency repairs, will increase from 2 to 4 weeks’ rent.


Extension of time to comply with repair order

A lessor or landlord may apply to QCAT for an extension of time to comply with a repair order.

QCAT may grant the extension for any of the following reasons:

  • hardship
  • shortage of material necessary to make repairs
  • remote location of the premises is causing difficulty with any of the following:
  • being supplied with material necessary to make repairs
  • engaging a suitably qualified person to make repairs

QCAT must give a copy of any extension of time to comply with repair orders to the RTA.


Offence of not complying with a repair order

It is an offence not to comply with a repair order unless there is a reasonable excuse.

Non-compliance with a repair order incurs a maximum of 50 penalty units. For each week that the offence continues after someone has been charged with contravening it, an additional 5 penalty units will be imposed.

The RTA investigates alleged offences that attract a penalty under the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008. To find out more about RTA enforcement and prosecution processes, please refer to the RTA website.

A tenancy database is a list where landlords/agents record personal information about tenants who have had specific problems with their tenancies. For example, a tenant can be listed in a tenancy database for amounts owing under a tenancy agreement, objectionable behavior, repeated breaches or domestic and family violence matters.

Examples of tenancy databases where information is kept include:

There are specific steps and information parties must follow in relation to a tenancy database. This includes the listing person advising the tenant in writing and giving details about the proposed listing, or taking reasonable steps to advise the tenant of the proposed listing before the listing can be made.

For further information about the tenancy database and key information you need to know, please visit the Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA) website here.


When can a tenant apply to QCAT in relation to a database listing?

A tenant may make a non-urgent dispute application to QCAT when:

  • they receive a notice that they will be added to a tenancy database
  • when they have been added to a tenancy database.

If the database operator does not provide a notice and the details are incorrect or unjust, a tenant may apply to QCAT to make orders. The tenant must apply within six months of becoming aware of the database listing.

A tenant can apply to QCAT for removal of a tenant’s name from a database, or the correction of details listed in the database.

QCAT may make orders only if it is satisfied:

  • The database includes information that is incorrect or misleading.
  • The listing is unjust, having regard to:
    • the reasons for the listing
    • the tenant’s involvement in the circumstances giving rise to the reason for listing
    • the adverse consequences to the tenant because of the listing
    • any other matter

Because the application to remove a tenant from a listing involves the exercise of discretion, QCAT will not make a consent order unless the material filed with the consent order is enough for QCAT to be satisfied that the listing is incorrect or unjust.

Therefore, when you make a non-urgent application at the bottom of the page, any application to remove a person’s name from a database must also include supporting documents such as a copy of the tenancy agreement, reasons for the initial listing and a copy of the tenancy database report.

It is also important to know the following information before you make an application about a residential tenancy dispute:

In deciding tenancy disputes, QCAT has a monetary limit of $25,000 (excluding interest).

If your claim amount is over $25,000 (excluding interest), you can apply to have your dispute determined through the relevant court.

Decision amount

Relevant court

Up to and including $150,000

Magistrates Court

From $150,000 up to $750,000

District Court

More than $750,000

Supreme Court

Depending on the issues in dispute, the time limit in which you can bring an application to QCAT may differ.

The following common dispute types must be lodged with QCAT in a specific time limit. Refer to the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 for further information on time limits for all other dispute types.

Dispute typeTime Limit
Tenant or resident lodging a claim due to landlord, provider or agent retaliation.Within 1 month of becoming aware of the retaliatory action.
Application for termination because of misrepresentation.Within the first 3 months of occupying a rental property.
A landlord or agent lodging a termination order after the handover date. Within two weeks of the handover date.
A landlord or agent lodging a claim for termination for failure to leave.Within 14 days of the Notice to Leave (RTA Form 12) expiring.
A landlord disputing the amount that would have been taken to be payment of a rental bond when a rent decrease is given in the first six months of a residential tenancy agreement.Within seven days of the first six months of the residential tenancy agreement ending.
A landlord objecting to a tenant's request for reimbursement of emergency repair costs.Within seven days of receiving the tenant's request.
A landlord or tenant disputing a rental bond.Within seven days after a Notice of Unresolved Dispute was issued from the RTA. You must also notify the RTA within the same seven day period that you have lodged your dispute with QCAT by providing the RTA with a copy of the QCAT receipt confirming your application. If you do not do this the bond will be paid to the first party who lodged a claim on the bond.
A landlord or tenant claiming there has been a breach of a residential tenancy agreement.Within six months after the lessor or tenant becomes aware of the breach.
A tenant disputing a significant change to a residential tenancy agreement.Within 30 days after the tenant enters into the residential tenancy agreement.
A tenant disputing a breach of restriction about a residential tenancy database listing.Within six months after becoming aware of the breach of restriction. If the listing has been unjustly or incorrectly made (as defined in the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008) there is no time limit.
A tenant disputing a rent increase because they consider it excessive.Within 30 days of receiving the notice outlining the rent increase.
A tenant objecting to a proposed park rule for a moveable dwelling park.Within seven days of receiving the Non-Resolution Notice about the proposal from the park liaison committee.
A tenant disputing an Abandonment Termination Notice (RTA Form 15).Within 28 days of receiving the Abandonment Termination Notice (RTA Form 15).
A former tenant dissatisfied with a decision made by QCAT declaring a premises abandoned. Within 28 days after receiving notice from the landlord termination the agreement.
A provider wanting to declare a proposed rule change reasonable in rooming accommodation.Within seven days of the proposed starting date of the rule change.
A resident disputing entry to their room or removal of a resident from rooming accommodation.Within six months after the event happening.
A provider or resident claiming there has been a breach of a rooming accommodation agreement.Within six months after the provider or resident becomes aware of the breach.

There are some key steps you need to take as the respondent in a residential tenancy case. You must:

  • read the above information and follow the link below to understand the QCAT process and how the case will be progressed to a final hearing
  • file your written submissions and any supporting documents in response to the application or, file a counter application

To learn more about what happens next in the process and how to file a counter application please click here.

If QCAT issues a warrant of possession as part of a residential tenancy termination, the police are responsible for executing the warrant.

You may wish to contact the police station closest to the residential property if circumstances change, for example the tenant has left the residential property.

All other QCAT decisions can be enforced through the Magistrates Court even if they do not involve the payment of money.  You need to provide the court with a copy of the QCAT order and an affidavit (a sworn statement that you sign) confirming the amount not paid or an action which has not been taken.  A justice of the peace, commissioner of declarations or a solicitor must witness your affidavit.

It is free to file the order and affidavit with the relevant court.  For more information visit www.courts.qld.gov.au.

You may seek independent legal advice about enforcement options including applying for a warrant of execution or a money order.

When do I get my bond money back after the hearing?

If QCAT’s decision involves the distribution of bond money, at the conclusion of the hearing, QCAT will give the Residential Tenancy Authority (RTA) the details of the decision. The RTA will then distribute the money according to the decision.


What happens when a termination order and warrant of possession are made?

After a termination order has been made by QCAT ending your tenancy agreement, you will have to vacate the premises by midnight on the date set out in the order.

A warrant of possession is also issued, which sets out the important dates and requirements for the Queensland Police Service to remove you if you do not vacate the premises in the required timeframe. The warrant of possession authorises the police to enter the rented premises and, using reasonable force where necessary, make tenants vacate the premises.

While the warrant is in effect, the police may attend the property and give you a date by which you must vacate the premises, or they may require you to vacate the premises immediately. You will not be able to enter the premises after the warrant of possession has been executed as the locks will be changed. You may wish to contact your local police station for more information. A complete list of Queensland police stations is available at www.police.qld.gov.au/stations.


If both parties in the dispute have made applications against each other, can I apply to have the application joined and heard together?

Both parties involved in the same residential tenancy dispute can make an application against each other. For example, a tenant may claim the bond and the landlord may make a claim for compensation. Where this occurs, applications may be joined. This means the claims may be heard and decided together. If each party has lodged their own application, you will need to apply to QCAT to have these matters heard at the same time. You will need to make an application for directions seeking to have them heard together. You can find this application here.

The time for QCAT to finalise a case may vary depending on QCAT’s workload and the number of steps to be completed by parties as required by QCAT to resolve the dispute. The current average time to consider a residential tenancy dispute and finalise your case can be found on our expected timeframes page.

How do I make an application about a residential tenancy dispute?

To make an application, please select your case type from the list below:

Help and further information

Queensland legislation related to residential tenancy disputes includes the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008.

The Act is available on the Office of the Queensland Parliamentary Counsel website.

You can access a range of databases which keep records of previous decisions about residential tenancy matters. This includes previous decisions from the following:

  • QCAT and QCATA decisions about residential tenancy disputes after 1 December 2009, can be found in the residential tenancy matters section on the Supreme Court of Queensland Library website

For legal advice:

* Contact the private solicitor of your choice

* Use Queensland Law Society’s Find a Solicitor service.

* Contact Legal Aid Queensland on 1300 65 11 88

* Contact Community Legal Centres Queensland for details on your local community legal centre on 07 3392 0092

For assistance in legal proceedings:

Law Right Court and QCAT Services

LawRight is an independent, non-profit community based legal organisation that coordinates pro bono legal services for individuals and community groups. Parties with proceedings in QCAT may be able to obtain assistance from LawRight’s Court and Tribunal Services to self-represent or in limited circumstances, be given representation.

If you are unsure whether you are eligible for assistance from LawRight or wish to make an enquiry, contact the service via phone on 07 3564 7561, or email at qcat.cts@lawright.org.au, or writing to PO Box 12217, George Street QLD 4003.

To apply for help from LawRight, please complete the application form here. If you are unable to complete the online form, contact LawRight to discuss alternative arrangements

Community legal centres

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (Qld) Ltd (ATSILS) is a community-based organisation established to provide professional and culturally proficient legal services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Queensland. You can access website information or contact ATSILS on(07) 3025 3888.

Tenants Queensland is a specialist state-wide community legal service for tenancy law cases and provides a free tenancy law advice service for residential tenants.

QSTARS is a free independent advice and referral service for all Queensland renters, delivered by Tenants Queensland. QSTARS can assist you with a referral to other housing support services or help you write a letter or fill in tenancy forms. You can access their website or contact them on Ph: 1300 744 263.

Property Owners Association of Queensland is a long established organisation with a history in protecting the rights of Queensland property owners. The POAQ is a not-for-profit association representing the interests of those people involved in housing in private rental dwellings.

Community Legal Centres Queensland can help you find the nearest community legal service available to you. You can also contact them on (07) 3392 0092.

Caxton Legal Centre is an independent, non-profit community organisation providing free legal and social work advice, assistance and referrals to the general public. Please note that the Caxton Legal Centre does not provide advice about building or other business and commercial disputes.

Women's Legal Service is a community legal centre that provides free legal advice and information to women in Queensland.

Youth Advocacy Centre offers free confidential legal and welfare assistance to young people under 17 years who live in or around Brisbane. Telephone support is also provided to young people outside of Brisbane and throughout Queensland.

The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT)’s registry is here to administer your case and provide general information. Please see below what registry staff can and cannot do to assist with your case.

Registry staff can:

* answer questions about QCAT processes

* provide information about QCAT’s different types of forms that are available for your consideration

* provide you with information and support about how to lodge an application

* refer and/or process any request to access the QCAT register of proceedings (a publicly available list of QCAT cases) or the record of proceedings (the case files themselves)

* advise on fees and allowances, and how to apply for a waiver of fees

* guide you in checking your forms are complete before lodgement (e.g. signed in the correct places)

* give you information on legal organisations that could help.


Registry staff cannot:

* provide legal advice

* advise on whether you should submit an application and whether you are filing under the correct legal area (eg minor civil dispute – consumer or trader or minor civil dispute – minor debt)

* tell you if you should lodge an appeal or a counter-application

* recommend a specific lawyer to assist you

* instruct you on how to word your application, supporting documents or what to say at a proceeding

* contact a QCAT member or adjudicator directly on your behalf

* predict likely outcomes of a case or appeal

* help you prepare your case

* advise what orders or decisions you should seek

* explain what you should do to follow QCAT directions

* recommend your next steps regarding enforcing an order or tribunal decision

* advise on exact timeframes for resolution of a case – this depends on your individual case