Applying to the Tribunal
The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) has the power to hear tenancy disputes. If you are unable to resolve a tenancy dispute, you can apply to the Tribunal for a tenancy hearing and seek a final decision.
In the Tribunal, each party must represent themselves, and legal representation is not allowed, except in certain circumstances.
Before you attend a Tribunal hearing, it is a good idea to seek tenancy advice about how the tenancy law applies in your situation. Urgent and non-urgent applications The Act defines two types of Tribunal applications: urgent applications and non-urgent applications.
The Tribunal application form includes a list of all urgent and non-urgent applications. If you apply to the Tribunal, you will need to tick the appropriate box to indicate the type of application you are making.
If your matter is defined in the Act as an urgent application, you can apply directly to the Tribunal for a tenancy hearing, without first going through the RTA Dispute Resolution Service.
All other matters are defined as non-urgent applications and you must apply to the RTA Dispute Resolution Service for conciliation before you can apply to the Tribunal for a hearing.
If you apply to the RTA Dispute Resolution Service but your matter cannot be resolved, the RTA will send you a Notice of Unresolved Dispute (NURD). This notice will include a conciliation number. When you complete a Tribunal non-urgent application form, you will need to write the RTA conciliation number on the application form, and attach a copy of your NURD.
When applying to the Tribunal, it is important to act quickly as time limits may apply. If you fail to act within the required time limit, you may lose your right to have the matter heard in the Tribunal. For example, if the dispute relates to a breach of a tenancy agreement, you must take action to apply to the Tribunal within six months of becoming aware of the breach.
To dispute an abandonment notice or Tribunal abandonment order, you must apply to the Tribunal within 28 days of receiving the notice or the order being made.
Applying for a Hearing
To apply to the Tribunal for a tenancy hearing, complete and lodge an Application for minor civil dispute – residential tenancy dispute. Attach any supporting documents. If it is a non-urgent application, attach a copy of your NURD.
Tribunal application forms are available from your local courthouse or online at www.qcat.qld.gov.au Applications must be lodged in person or by mail at the local Magistrates Court closest to the rental premises (not including the Brisbane Magistrates Court) or the QCAT registry in Brisbane.
When you lodge your application, you will need to provide the Tribunal with at least three copies of your application and attachments (one for you as the applicant, one for each respondent, and one for the Tribunal).
If there is more than one respondent, an extra copy of the application form and attachments is required for each additional respondent. On the application form there is space to provide details about the dispute and any evidence you have attached.
Your application can set out the outcome you are seeking and the decision you would like the Tribunal to make. If there is not enough space on the application form, you can attach additional signed pages.
If you are seeking compensation, include photocopies of any receipts or invoices. Tribunal decisions The maximum monetary limit for Tribunal applications is $25,000. Claims for amounts that are over the maximum limit must usually be heard in the Magistrates Court. The Tribunal has the power to make a range of decisions in relation to tenancy disputes. Examples of decisions the Tribunal can make include:
- payment of money, compensation, or reduced rent.
- changing the rules of entry.
- terminating an agreement or setting aside a Notice to Leave.
- performance of specifi ed work or action to remedy a breach of the agreement
- refunding of rental bond money.
Generally, the type of decisions the Tribunal can make will depend on the nature of the tenancy dispute. If you apply to the Tribunal, you will need to apply under the sections of the Act that relate to the type of decisions you are seeking.
When you lodge a Tribunal application, you will need to pay a fi ling fee. The amount depends on how much money you are claiming. In December 2009 Tribunal filing fees ranged from $20– $250:
- $20 – non-monetary order, or claims not more than $500
- $50 – claims over $500, but not more than $1,000
- $90 – claims over $1,000, but not more than $10,000
- $250 – claims over $10,000
Parties appearing in the Tribunal for a tenancy matter are liable for their own costs. However, the Tribunal can award the cost of the filing fee as part of the claim.
Your application can include a request that the respondent compensate you for the cost of the filing fee. If you are responding to a claim by the lessor or agent, they can include the cost of the filing fee in their claim against you. Waiver of fees When applying to the Tribunal, an applicant may apply to the principal registrar for a waiver of the payment of fees, if they can demonstrate that the fees would cause undue financial hardship.
To do this you will need to lodge an Application for waiver of fees by reason of fi nancial hardship. The principal registrar may waive the payment of a fee if they are satisfied that payment of the fee would cause or would be likely to cause, the person undue financial hardship.
Appealing a QCAT decision
In certain circumstances parties can appeal a QCAT decision. The appeal process differs depending on the type of decision and who made the orignal decision.
For a tenancy matter you must seek leave to appeal. The Tribunal will decide whether or not to grant the appeal. An application for leave to appeal and the appeal may be dealt with at the same hearing.
It is best to obtain a copy of the writen reasons for the decision before you appeal. You can request written reasons within 14 days after the decision takes effect. QCAT has 45 days to provide you with written reasons.
All QCAT hearings are digitally recorded. Where the decision was given orally it is suffi cient for the Tribunal to provide an audio recording, or a transcript, of that part of the proceeding.
An application for an appeal must be lodged within 28 days of receiving written reasons for the decision. You will need to fill in an Application for leave to appeal or appeal. A filing fee of between $250 and $500 will apply.
In some instances the Tribunal may stay a decision pending the outcome of an appeal. This is at the discretion of the person hearing the matter. If you are seeking a stay of the decision it is advisable to request this up front and provide compelling evidence.
You can fill in an Application to stay a decision and lodge this form with your Application for leave to appeal or appeal.