Darwin Renters Rights: What You Need to Know
The growing cost of housing means it is becoming increasingly difficult for the average Australian and Territorian to own a property. This is obvious if you consider the statistics that show 31.4 percent of the nation rent a home. And, in households with someone under 35 heading them, this number climbs to a staggering 63.4 percent.
Renting a home can be risky if you don’t know and understand your rights and obligations as a tenant. So, here are a few things every tenant should know about the Northern Territory Residential Tenancies Act (RTA).
Becoming a Tenant in Darwin
You pay rent in advance, but this doesn't mean you pay for two rental periods at once. It only means each payment counts towards the next relevant period, whether this is a fortnight or a month.
You should make sure you have a written tenancy agreement. This agreement should ideally contain all the conditions specified by the RTA, along with any other terms both you and your landlord agree upon.
A landlord must complete an ingoing condition report for every new tenant. They must then provide you with a signed copy of this report within three business days. Photos or video of the property are useful in the event of a future dispute.
It is your landlord's legal obligation to ensure your premises and any ancillary property are always in a suitable state of repair. There are several different categories of obligatory repairs, each with different legal obligations for both tenant and landlord. The different categories are:
- Emergency repairs
- Repairs to maintain the safety and habitability of a property
- General repairs
For tenants, the main legal obligation is that they must inform their landlords in writing as soon as they notice any repairs.
Reclaiming Your Bond
Most landlords and all agencies request a security deposit, commonly known as a bond. The maximum amount they can ask for is equal to four weeks rent. The landlord must deposit it with an official trust account in the NT.
Your landlord will refund your bond when you move out unless there are any legitimate claims against it.
Your rental rate can increase during your tenancy if there is a provision for it in your written rental agreement. This provision must stipulate the amount of the increase.
Your rate cannot increase within six months of moving in or within six months after the last increase. There is, unfortunately, no limit to how much your rent can increase. But if you believe your rate is excessively high, you can apply to the Commissioner of Tenancies for a review.
When it comes to evictions in the Northern Territories, there is absolutely no legal shortcut available. Your landlord must follow a strict process set out in the RTA. Here is the process, step by step:
- If you have breached your tenancy agreement, the landlord usually has to issue a notice to remedy first.
- The landlord or rental agent must serve you with a valid, written notice to vacate.
- Landlords cannot evict you without meeting one or more of the legal grounds set out in the RTA. The eviction notice should include these grounds, along with details identifying the circumstances leading up to them.
- If you have not moved out by the date stipulated in the notice to vacate, the landlord must then apply to the ACAT for a Termination and Possession Order.
- Only if the ACAT also issues a warrant for eviction can the police get involved in evicting you from the premises.
Rent with an experienced Darwin property manager
As you can see, renting property in Australia and the Northern Territory can be a confusing and tricky business – for both tenants and landlords. That is why it’s best to rent a property managed through a qualified specialist. Not only do they know every detail of the Residential Tenancies Act, they ensure the protection of your rights. And that gives you the peace of mind and security you need to enjoy your home.