Tenant Rights and Obligations (NT)
Tenant rights and obligations in the Northern Territory are set out in the Residential Tenancies Act 1999, which is supplemented by Regulations. Before entering into a residential rental or tenancy agreement, a prospective tenant should read through the agreement carefully and ensure they understand all of the conditions. This page outlines some of the rights and obligations residential tenants in the NT.
A tenant will be provided with a condition report when they move into a 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.
A landlord may require a tenant to pay a bond at the start of the tenancy. The maximum bond a landlord can request is the equivalent of four weeks of rent.
In the NT, where the rent on a property is more than 14 days overdue, the landlord can serve the tenant with a notice giving seven days for the tenant to pay the arrears. If the tenant fails to pay the arrears within seven days of the notice, the landlord may apply to the Northern Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NTCAT) to end the tenancy agreement.
Rent may be increased during the tenancy if the following conditions are met:
- the tenancy agreement has a condition allowing for rental increases
- the tenancy agreement notes the method of calculation for increases
- the tenant is given 30 days’ notice of the increase
- the increase does not occur in the first six months of the agreement and only occurs 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 three months. The landlord must arrange an entry time when the tenant is able to be present at the property.
Cleanliness and maintenance
The tenant is responsible for keeping the property clean and free of damage. This includes notifying the landlord of any damage or repairs required.
The landlord is generally required to cover the cost of any repairs. However, if the tenant has caused the damage, they will be responsible for the cost of repairs.
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 five days of notice.
If the landlord fails to carry out repairs, the tenant can apply for an order through the NTCAT.
In the NT, a landlord can charge a tenant for the consumption of the water, electricity, and gas where:
- the tenancy agreement contains a specific clause stating that 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.
Use of property
A 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.
A landlord can terminate a tenancy agreement if illegal activity is occurring on the property or where constant nuisance is being caused to the surrounding properties.
In the NT, a tenant is only permitted to keep a pet on the property if they have given the landlord written notice describing the pet and the landlord has not objected to this, or they have objected and NTCAT has overruled their objection.
A landlord may object to a tenant keeping a pet by giving the tenant written notice of their objection and the reason for it, and making an application to NTCAT for an order that the tenant must not keep a pet on the premises.
NTCAT may order:
- that the landlord’s object is reasonable and that the tenant must not keep a pet on the premises; or
- that the landlord’s objection is not reasonable and that the tenant may keep a pet on the premises.
Vacating a property
At the end of a tenancy, a tenant is obligated to clean the property and leave it in the same condition as it was in at 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 retain a portion of the bond to cover the cost of cleaning or repairs. 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.
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.