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Landlord Rights and Obligations in the NT
Leasing out a property in the Northern Territory (NT) comes with a number of obligations on the landlord, but also carries a number of rights. For residential properties, landlord rights and obligations in the NT are found in the Residential Tenancies Act.
Starting a tenancy
A residential tenancy can be established through a written tenancy agreement or by verbal agreement. For the benefit of both parties, it is recommended a written agreement be used so both parties’ obligations are clearly understood.
Regardless of whether the tenancy agreement is written or verbal, the conditions agreed upon must not contradict the obligations found in the Residential Tenancies Act.
Within 3 days of the tenant moving into the property, the landlord must complete a condition report and give a copy to the tenant to sign. The condition report is evidence of the state of the property at the beginning of the tenancy.
The landlord has the right to ask for a damage bond at the start of the tenancy. The bond cannot exceed the equivalent of 4 weeks rent. The landlord is required to hold the bond in an approved trust account for the duration of the tenancy.
Where the landlord decides to leave the NT for more than 14 days, the bond must be transferred to a registered real estate agent.
Entry to the property
The landlord must respect the tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment of the property. If they wish to enter the property, the landlord must comply with notice periods and entry conditions as outlined below:
|Reason for Entry||Notice required|
|To collect rent (cannot be more than once in a 7-day period)||7 days|
|Inspection (maximum once in a 3 month period)||7 days|
|Preparation of condition report||24 hours|
|Showing to future tenants (no more than 28 days before end of lease)||24 hours (cannot have excessive amount of showings)|
|Property sale||24 hours (cannot have excessive amount of showings)|
Repairs and security
The landlord is obliged to make sure that the property being rented is habitable, and that it is safe and secure.
The landlord must arrange and pay for any repairs required to the property within a reasonable time frame. Emergency repairs must be carried out within 5 days of the tenant’s notification. The landlord may charge the tenant for the cost of a repair where the tenant has caused the damage.
The landlord is also required to ensure the property is reasonably secure, including providing and maintaining working locks on all doors and windows. The landlord must also ensure the property is compliant with all NT health and safety regulations.
If the property is in a state of disrepair and is not habitable, either party may terminate the tenancy agreement with 2 days notice.
It is the landlord’s right to have the rent paid on time as per the tenancy agreement. Where the tenant is more than 14 days behind in rent, the landlord can serve the tenant with a notice requiring the tenant to pay the arrears. If the tenant does not comply with the notice within 7 days, the landlord can make an application to terminate the tenancy agreement through the Northern Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NTCAT).
The landlord is required to maintain proper records of when and for which property the rent has been paid. A receipt must also be issued to the tenant unless they have paid directly into an authorised account.
NT rental laws do not stipulate who is responsible for keeping the property pest free.
The landlord is responsible for maintaining the property and ensuring the property is habitable and safe. However, if pests have come to the property because the tenant has not kept the property clean, the tenant may be responsible.
If the parties cannot come to an agreement, either party can make an application to the NTCAT.
Ending the tenancy
Within 3 days of the tenant removing their belongings from the property, the landlord is required to complete a condition report for the property. The landlord is required to note on the report if they are retaining any of the bond to cover damage or cleaning. The landlord cannot retain any part of the bond without the signature of the tenant on the final condition report.
If the tenant does not agree and refuses to sign the condition report, the landlord must make an application to NTCAT within 7 days of the tenant’s refusal.
The landlord is required to refund the bond within 7 days of the tenant vacating the property, minus any amount deducted for damage, repairs, or unpaid rent. If the amount of bond to be repaid is in dispute, the landlord must, within 7 days refund any amount in excess of the amount claimed.
This article reflects the state of the law as at 1 April 2016. It is intended to be of a general nature only and does not constitute legal advice. If you require legal assistance, please telephone 1300 636 846 or request a consultation at gotocourt.com.au.