Residential tenancy databases

A final thing to watch for when your tenancy ends: getting listed on a residential tenancy database.

Your landlord or agent is allowed to list you on a residential tenancy database only if all the following conditions are met:

  • You were a tenant under a residential tenancy agreement or residential site agreement (so, if you’re just an occupant, you cannot be listed); and
  • The tenancy agreement has ended; and
  • You breached the agreement; and
  • Because of the breach, either:
    • you owe the landlord an amount of money that is more than the bond; or
    • the Civil and Administrative Tribunal made a termination order (Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (NSW) (the RT Act 2010) section 212).

There is a further condition: your landlord or agent must take reasonable steps to inform you as to the information they propose to list, and give you 14 days to review the proposed listing, and consider any objections you might make (section 213(1)). Note that this condition does not apply if your landlord or agent cannot locate you after making reasonable inquiries.

The information in the proposed listing must identify the nature of the breach and be accurate, complete and unambiguous (section 212(d)). ‘Out-of-date’ information, as defined at section 209, is inaccurate and so cannot be listed. This means:

  • if the proposed listing is about an amount of money owed, and you pay it within three months of the amount becoming due; or
  • if the proposed listing is about a termination order, and you have had the order suspended, or the warrant for possession has lapsed, or you and the landlord have entered into a new tenancy agreement;

the proposed listing is not allowed.

Note that a listing is often about both money owed and a termination order: for example, where the Tribunal has terminated the tenancy because of rent arrears. In this case, you might pay the money owed within the three-month period, but because of the termination order, the information is not out-of-date.

You can apply to the Tribunal to stop a proposed listing, or to amend or remove a listing.

The RT Act 2010 does not set a time period for making a listing, so it appears that your landlord or agent can make a listing some time – possibly a long time – after the tenancy has ended. If your landlord or agent makes, or proposes to make, a listing after what you regard as an unreasonable delay, you might argue that it is ‘unjust’ and should be removed (section 217(2)(b)).

Once information is listed on a residential tenancy database, it can stay there for three years from the date of the listing, unless it is required to be removed before that (because, for example, it becomes out-of-date, or it is found to be inaccurate, incomplete or ambiguous, or the Tribunal orders its removal). For more about getting listings amended or removed, see the section on residential tenancy databases in Applying for a tenancy.

This is new

There were no provisions about residential tenancy databases in the RT Act 1987. Agents (but not landlords, and not the residential tenancy database operators themselves) were subject to a rule of conduct about the use of residential tenancy databases under the Property, Stock and Business Agents Regulation 2003 (NSW); this rule of conduct was repealed when the RT Act 2010 commenced.