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Landlord and Tenant Rights and Obligations (NT)

Leases for residential properties in the NT are governed by the Residential Tenancies Act 1999. Disputes about residential tenancies are dealt with by NTCAT. This page deals with landlord and tenant rights and obligations in the NT.

Landlords and tenants

A landlord is a person who owns a property and gives another person the right to live in that property, or part of the property, for a specified period. A landlord can also be referred to as an owner or lessor.

A tenant is a person who is given the right to live in a property by a property owner or manager. A tenant can also be referred to as a lessee or renter.

If a landlord appoints a property agent to manage the rental property on their behalf, the agent is bound by the same obligations as the landlord when dealing with the property and the tenant.

Am I in a residential landlord/tenant relationship?

In the NT, a residential landlord/tenant relationship is established when a person gives another person the right to occupy a property intended to be a residential dwelling. This relationship gives rise to a range of landlord and tenant rights and obligations.

When a landlord enters into a tenancy agreement with a tenant, they must provide a copy of the tenancy agreement to the tenant. The agreement must clearly state the names of the tenant and of the landlord, the address of the landlord, the details of the property, and the terms of the tenancy agreement including the amount of rent payable.

The Residential Tenancies Act only applies to residential premises. Individuals who are renting caravans and mobile homes, rooming agreements, and short-term holiday accommodation are not governed by this legislation.

Fixed term and period tenancies

A tenancy agreement can be for a fixed term (a set period with a clear end date) or periodic (month to month).

In a periodic tenancy, either party can terminate the agreement at any time by providing the requisite notice to the other party.

In a fixed-term tenancy, the lease can be terminated early if both parties agree to this. It can also be terminated early if there is a serious breach of the lease by either party, and in certain other limited circumstances, such as where the property has become uninhabitable.

Landlord obligations and rights

In the NT, a landlord has numerous rights and obligations towards a tenant.

These include:

  • completing a condition report at commencement of tenancy
  • keeping records of rent payments
  • ensuring the property is habitable and safe
  • ensuring the property is reasonably secure
  • respecting the tenant’s right to privacy
  • carrying out repairs
  • completing an exit report at the end of the tenancy, and
  • taking a bond at start of the tenancy and arranging for the refund of the bond at the end of the tenancy
  • undertaking inspections of the property
  • deducting the cost of damage done to the property from the bond payment.

A landlord must ensure they (and any agent acting on their behalf) adhere to their obligations under the Residential Tenancies Act. A breach of the landlord’s obligations can result in a monetary penalty.

Tenant obligations and rights

A tenant’s obligations while living in a leased or rented residential property in the NT include:

  • completing a condition report and returning it to the landlord
  • paying a bond if required
  • paying rent on time
  • keeping the property clean and free of damage
  • notifying the landlord of any damage or potential damage to the property
  • tending to the yard
  • adhering to any special conditions in the tenancy agreement
  • not to alter or remove locks without the landlord’s consent
  • not to use the property for an illegal purpose
  • not to cause a nuisance on the property
  • not to cause unreasonable interference with the peace or privacy of others in the vicinity
  • returning the property in a reasonable state of repair and in a reasonably clean condition.

Under a residential tenancy, a tenancy has the right to:  

  • quiet enjoyment of the property
  • privacy while living in the property
  • have the property maintained and kept safe
  • have repairs are carried out in a reasonable time, and
  • receive the bond back at end of tenancy provided the property is vacated in good condition.

The tenant must ensure they abide by the conditions of the tenancy agreement. Some breaches of tenancy agreements can result in the lease being terminated early and the tenant being evicted from the property.

Disputes between landlord and tenant

If a dispute arises between a landlord and a tenant, the first step for both parties to take is to read through the tenancy agreement to determine what was originally agreed upon.

The next step is for both parties to discuss the problem and attempt to come up with a solution. If a property agent has been appointed, the matter can be discussed between the parties and them.

A person can seek advice from Northern Territory Consumer Affairs about their rights and obligations under a residential tenancy.

If no solution can be agreed upon between the parties, an application to the Northern Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NTCAT) can be made. NTCAT will hear both parties’ evidence and submissions and make a decision.

A decision by NTCAT is final.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.


Michelle Makela

Michelle Makela is a Legal Practice Director at Go To Court Lawyers. She holds a Juris Doctor, a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) and a Master of Criminology. She was admitted to practice in 2006. Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning. 


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