What Can’t A Landlord Ask A Tenant?
When you’re renting out your investment property, you want to make sure you’ve got the right tenants.
After all, they’ll be taking care of one of your biggest assets. When it comes to finding out more about your tenants, what is okay to ask, and what isn’t?
What does the law say?
Property rentals, along with the rest of the accommodation sector, are subject to Queensland’s Anti-Discrimination Act of 1991. That means that every person’s right to be free from discrimination, sexual harassment and vilification in the accommodation sector is enshrined in Queensland law.
Real estate agents, property managers and landlords are entitled to select the most appropriate tenant for their rental property. That decision must be based chiefly on the tenant’s ability to fulfil their responsibilities such as paying the rent on time and looking after the property, and not on bias, prejudice or unfair assumptions based on attributes such as age, sex, race, parental status and so on.
What a landlord can’t do
- Ask about unnecessary and potentially discriminatory information. As a general rule, landlords and property managers are not allowed to ask about a person’s marital status, gender, age, number of children (if any), plans to have children, race, nationality, sexual preference, health conditions, medical history, or their religious or political beliefs. This applies to both written tenancy application forms and verbal tenant interviews.
- Ask for a specific type of tenant. By law, real estate advertisements must not be discriminatory. The simplest way to do this is to describe the property rather than the kind of tenant wanted. For example, by listing a property as ‘a one-bedroom unit’ rather than ‘suit couple or bachelor’, all tenants are encouraged to apply.
- Apply different rules or conditions for different tenants. Any special tenancy terms or conditions must apply to all tenants. It is unlawful discrimination to change the rules for different tenants, such as imposing a higher bond on young tenants or charging tenants with children higher rent.
- Evict or penalise tenants for discriminatory reasons. To evict or otherwise punish tenants for discriminatory reasons – for example, if a tenant or tenants become parents during the term of the tenancy – is not allowed.
- Victimise tenants. Landlords and property managers must not treat tenants poorly if they complain about discrimination (or intend to) or are involved in a proceeding under the Anti-Discrimination Act.
What a landlord can do
- Ask for personal details. Landlords and property managers are allowed to ask for proof of a tenant’s identity, their ability to pay the rent and to care for the property.
- Ask for references. Landlords and property managers can ask would-be tenants for references, as long as all tenants are asked for them and it doesn’t result in unfair indirect discrimination. For example, first-time renters may not be able to supply an accommodation reference but might have a personal reference instead.
- Ask about pets. Special tenancy terms or conditions, such as banning pets, are allowed, provided they apply to all tenants equally. Landlords are entitled to make the call about whether or not a tenant may keep a pet, and tenants should not have a pet unless it has been agreed and included in the tenancy agreement. Guide, hearing and assistance dogs are not pets, and landlords cannot discriminate against tenants with these dogs.
For more expert property management advice, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly and professional property management team.