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Tenant Rights and Obligations in the NT
Before entering into a residential rental or tenancy agreement, the prospective tenant should read it through carefully and ensure they understand all of the conditions.
The tenant will be provided with a condition report once they move into the property. It is important for the tenant to check the condition report to ensure any damage already existing in the property is noted. The tenant should fill out their section of the form then return it to the landlord.
The landlord may require the tenant to pay a bond at the start of the tenancy. The maximum bond a landlord can request is the equivalent of four weeks rent.In the NT, where the rent is 14 days overdue, the landlord can serve the tenant with a notice giving 7 days for the tenant to pay the arrears.
If the tenant fails to pay the arrears within 7 days of the notice, the landlord may apply to the Northern Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NTCAT) to end the tenancy agreement.The rent may be increased during the tenancy if the following conditions are met:
- the tenancy agreement must have a condition allowing for rental increases
- the tenancy agreement must note the method of calculation for increases
- the tenant must be given 30 days notice of the increase, and
- the increase cannot occur in the first six months of the agreement and can only occur once in a six-month period.
If the tenant is notified of a rental increase and feels the increase is excessive, they may apply to NTCAT to review the increase.Under NT rental laws the tenant has the right to quiet enjoyment of the property. The landlord is required to respect the tenant’s privacy and not enter the property without proper notice.
Inspection of the property can occur once every 3 months. The landlord must arrange an entry time when the tenant is able to be present at the property.The tenant is responsible for keeping the property clean and free of damage. This includes notifying the landlord of any damage or repairs required.
Normally, the landlord is required to cover the cost of any repairs. However, if the tenant has caused the damage they will be responsible for the costs.
The landlord is required to carry out repairs within a reasonable time frame after receiving notice of the damage. If the repairs constitute an emergency, repairs must be organised within 5 days of notice. If the landlord fails to carry out repairs, the tenant can apply for an order through the NTCAT.In the NT, the landlord can charge the tenant for the consumption of the water, electricity, and gas where:
- the tenancy agreement contains a specific clause which states the tenant is responsible for the utility charges
- the tenancy agreement outlines how the charges are calculated, and
- the property is individually metered to measure the tenant’s actual use of the utility.
The tenant is under an obligation not to cause a nuisance in the property or engage in illegal activity. A nuisance is a repeated interference with the neighbours’ peace and privacy, such as excessive noise from the property.
The landlord can terminate the tenancy agreement if illegal activity is being conducted on the property or where constant nuisance is being caused to the surrounding properties.The Northern Territory legislation does not stipulate whether pets are allowed in rental properties.
If the tenant has a pet, it is best to ask whether the property is pet-friendly before signing a tenancy agreement. A special condition should be added to the tenancy agreement stipulating the pet can live in the property.At the end of the tenancy, the tenant is obligated to clean the property and leave it in the same condition as the start of the tenancy. The original condition report will be used to determine whether any damage has been done during the tenancy. The landlord cannot charge for reasonable wear and tear to the property.
If the property has been left damaged or unclean, the landlord may try and claim a portion of the bond to cover the cost of cleaning or repair.
If the tenant does not agree with the amount being claimed from the bond, they should not sign the bond claim form. The landlord will then have seven days to lodge an application with NTCAT for an order for payment.
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.wpengine.com.