Rental Responsibilities in the Northern Territory: What Landlords Need to Know
There is more to being a landlord in the Northern Territory than simply collecting rent from tenants. If you own for lease residential property in Darwin, Alice Springs, Nhulunbuy or any other town in the region, you must understand and abide by the regulations and legal responsibilities that come with being a landlord in the NT.
Establishing a Landlord-Tenant Relationship
Two types of tenancy exist in NT and throughout Australia:
1. Fixed Term Tenancies: Lease Agreement for a fixed term.
2. Periodic Tenancies: No fixed term – lease is terminated by two weeks written notice from tenant or 42 days’ notice in writing from the Landlord/Agent.
If a landlord provides a written contract for periodic or fixed term rental, the contract must comply with the Northern Territory Residential Tenancies Act of 2017.
What About Rent Increases?
Once a tenant takes residency, the landlord may not raise their rent for the term of the lease unless otherwise agreed in writing and included in the Tenancy Agreement. After that NT law allows the landlord to adjust the rental amount as per their request, for both fixed term (once agreed to by both parties) and periodic tenancies. The landlord must notify the tenant of any proposed rent increases at least 30 days in advance.
Responsibility to Maintain and Repair Rental Premises
Any residential property for rent must be safe, clean and in good repair. Here's who is responsible and for what:
- The Tenant: Responsible for the cleanliness of the premises & reporting maintenance in a timely manner
- The Landlord: Responsible for repair, safety, and property maintenance
A Northern Territory landlord is generally obliged to maintain reasonable conditions for the duration of the tenancy. When a tenant complains in writing, the landlord is required to act without undue delay. The tenant has the right to demand timely repairs including the following:
- Plumbing leaks
- Clogged plumbing
- Gas leaks
- Broken windows
- Broken door locks
If the landlord is notified in writing, yet they fail to complete urgent repairs, the tenant may arrange for repairs and send the bills to the property owner. To avoid this sort of pricey mistake, many landlords entrust day-to-day maintenance and repair to an experienced property management company.
When the Landlords may legally inspect the premises
A landlord or their agent may only enter a rental property between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m., but only with the consent of the tenant. Without tenant consent, the landlord may enter the premises with advance notice to conduct a condition report, carry out repairs or to inspect repairs made by an agent.
- The landlord must give the tenant one week notice before visiting the premises to collect rent.
- 24 hours notice is required for a landlord visit involving condition reports and repairs.
- Ideally, the tenant should be present during any inspection.
- If the landlord believes the inspection is for emergency purposes including repairs.
- Must be 12 weeks after the previous inspection or agreed entry to the property unless tenant agrees in writing to out of ordinary attendance.
What if the Tenant Doesn't Consent to Entry?
If the tenant does not consent to entry, the landlord or his agent may enter the premises to conduct important property repairs or maintenance. The landlord may enter the premises without notice if an emergency threatens the property or if the tenant has obviously abandoned the property and rent is in arrears. If the landlord only suspects the tenant has absconded, an Order from the Commissioner is required to gain entry.
Ending a Tenancy in the Northern Territory
To terminate a fixed term tenancy, the landlord must provide written notice to the tenant no fewer than 14 days before the end of the lease term. If the tenant wishes to end residency at the end of the term, they may provide a 14-day notice to the landlord. In either case, the notice must comply with the Northern Territory Residential Tenancies Act of 1999. If neither party terminates the fixed term agreement, residency may continue as a periodic tenancy agreement.
When it comes to managing rental properties in the Northern Territory, the devil is in the details. If you need a hand looking after your NT rental units, speak with a management specialist without delay.