If you rent the place in which you live in New South Wales, you are most likely covered by the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (NSW) (RT Act 2010).
The RT Act 2010 deals with most of the legal issues that can arise at the start of, during, and at the end of a tenancy.
Main features of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010
- There is a standard form of tenancy agreement that sets out the rights and obligations of you and your landlord;
- There is a set procedure if your landlord wants to increase the rent;
- There are set procedures to be followed if you or your landlord want to terminate your tenancy;
- The Civil and Administrative Tribunal has power to resolve disputes arising from a tenancy (for example, about repairs, rent arrears, termination or bonds).
Under the RT Act 2010, you have a right to…
- Have any ‘material facts’ about the premises disclosed to you before entering into a tenancy agreement (section 26);
- Find out if you are listed on a residential tenancy database, and apply to the Civil and Administrative Tribunal to get wrong or unfair listings removed (Part 11);
- Know the name of the landlord, and the contact details of the landlord or their agent (section 27);
- A written copy of the tenancy agreement (section 14), including the condition report (section 29);
- Have your rental bond deposited at Renting Services (section 162);
- A means of paying rent that does not incur a cost, other than the usual bank fees (section 35);
- A rent receipt, if you pay rent in person (section 36);
- A statement of your rent record, if you request it (section 37);
- 60 days’ notice, in writing, of a rent increase (section 41);
- A copy of the water bill, if you are required to pay water usage charges (section 39);
- Premises that are reasonably clean and fit for habitation (section 52), reasonably secure (section 70) and in a state of reasonable repair (section 63);
- Reasonable peace, comfort and privacy, and quiet enjoyment of the premises (section 50);
- Proper notice of access by the landlord (section 55);
- Repairs (section 63);
- Compensation for urgent repairs, if you have paid for them (section 64);
- Remain in the premises until your tenancy has been terminated by the Civil and Administrative Tribunal (or, in rare situations, a court) (Parts 5 and 6; Part 7, Division 5);
- have any goods left behind after the tenancy returned to you or otherwise dealt with according to the RT Act 2010 (Part 6, Division 2).
Under the RT Act 2010, you have an obligation to…
- Complete the condition report and give a copy to the landlord (section 29);
- Pay a rental bond, if the tenancy agreement requires it (section 32);
- Pay rent in advance, on or before the due date (section 33);
- Pay electricity, gas and oil charges, if the premises are separately metered (section 38);
- Pay water usage charges, if the premises are separately metered and fitted with water efficiency measures (section 39);
- Not use the premises for an illegal purpose (section 51(1)(a));
- Not cause or permit a nuisance (section 51(1)(b));
- Not interfere with the reasonable peace, comfort and privacy of your neighbours (section 51(1)(c));
- Not damage the premises (section 51(1)(d));
- Keep the premises reasonably clean (section 51(2)(a));
- Notify the landlord of any damage to the premises (section 52(2)(b));
- Not alter the premises without the landlord’s consent (section 66);
- Not change the locks, except where allowed (section 71);
- Not sublet or transfer the premises without the landlord’s consent (section 74);
- Terminate the agreement according to the procedures in the RT Act (Part 5, Division 3);
- Remove your goods, leave the premises in the same condition as you found them (except for fair wear and tear) and return the keys at the end the tenancy (section 51(3)).
Who’s covered by the RT Act 2010?
The RT Act 2010 covers most situations where a person pays rent for their housing. It covers private rental housing (that is, housing that is owned by a private landlord, and managed by them directly or by a real estate agent) and social housing (including public housing and community housing).
There are, however, some situations that are excluded from the RT Act 2010. See Table 2.1 in the section The tenancy agreement for the full list of exclusions; the main ones are:
- Boarders and lodgers;
- Occupants of shared households who do not have a written tenancy agreement;
- Refuge and crisis accommodation;
- Residential colleges or halls of residence for students of an educational institution;
- Residential parks;
- Retirement villages;
- ‘Protected tenants’.
Lodgers in registrable boarding houses are covered by the Boarding Houses Act 2012 NSW (BH Act) - see the section Boarding houses for more information.
Residential parks, retirement villages and ‘protected tenants’ are each covered by their own legislation – see the respective sections of Other types of tenants for more information.
Other excluded renters are not covered by any specific legislation, and are primarily subject to the common law – see lodging agreements at common law for more information. Always seek advice if you are concerned that you may be excluded from the RT Act 2010.
If your tenancy started before 31 January 2011
The RT Act 2010 commenced operation on 31 January 2011. From that date, it has applied to all residential tenancy agreements, including agreements for tenancies that started before 31 January 2011.
This means that from 31 January 2011, some of your legal rights and obligations have changed (and some of your landlord’s legal rights and obligations have changed too). It does not mean that your tenancy agreement has ended, or that you must now enter into a new agreement.
If your tenancy started before 1 January 1986
Some tenancies that started before 1 January 1986 are covered by the Landlord and Tenant (Amendment) Act 1948(NSW), and not the RT Act 2010. See the section on Protected tenants for more information.