Residential Tenancies Act Amended (NT)
Updated on Jan 29, 2024 • 4 min read • 28 views • Copy Link
Residential Tenancies Act Amended (NT)
At the start of this year, some significant changes were made to the Northern Territory’s Residential Tenancies Act. The changes have been made in response to the tight rental market in the NT, which has been described as the worst in the country. The changes include a ban on rental bidding and changes to notice periods for the termination of leases. This page outlines the changes and how they have been received.
Under section 38A of the Residential Tenancies Act 1999, landlords must not advertise rental premises, or offer a tenancy, without specifying a fixed amount of rent. A landlord must not require a tenant to pay more than the fixed amount that was offered unless the tenancy agreement contains additional services or benefits that were not originally offered.
The maximum penalty for a breach of this provision is a fine of 20 penalty units.
The amendments make some changes to the rights of tenants.
Under section 52, a tenant may alter locks or security devices with the consent of the landlord provided they provide a copy of the new keys or codes to the landlord.
Under section 74A, photos of a property containing the personal belongings of the tenant can only be used with the consent of the tenant.
Under section 92A, a tenant may terminate a tenancy immediately by giving written notice to the landlord if they have experienced domestic violence. A tenant who does this will not be liable for any expenses arising after the termination date. If the tenant has co-tenants, the tenancy agreement will remain in place in respect of the co-tenants.
Under section 122, when a tenant breaks a lease and vacates a property before the end of the fixed term, there is now a cap on the amount of rent that the landlord can claim. If the lease is broken in the first half of the term, 28 days’ rent can be claimed. If it is broken in the second half of the lease, 14 days’ rent can be claimed.
Under section 128, the situations in which a tenant’s personal information may be recorded on a tenancy database (a ‘blacklisting’) have been limited to where the tenant owed an amount of money that is more than the security deposit they paid, or where the Tribunal has made an order to terminate the lease.
A landlord must not threaten to have a tenant ‘blacklisted’ while a tenancy agreement is in place.
The changes also make changes to the obligations of landlords.
Terminations of periodic tenancies
Under section 89, a landlord who wishes to terminate a periodic tenancy must now give the tenant at least 60 days written notice. However, no ground needs to be specified.
Terminations of fixed-term tenancies
Under section 90, a landlord who wishes to terminate a fixed-term tenancy on the date it is due to end must give at least 60 days written notice to the tenant. When this occurs, the tenant may vacate the property at any time after notice has been given without any further liability.
Responses to the changes
Tenancy lawyers and advocates have welcomed the changes but said that further protections are needed. Tenants in the NT have in the past been expected to vacate rental properties with very little notice and tenants have been placed on ‘blacklists’ for long periods because of very minor matters and small debts. For some people, this has led to homelessness or having to leave the Territory to rent a residential property.
Real estate agents have criticized the changes for being made without consultation with the real estate industry of the NT and have described some of the changes as ‘new and surprising.’
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