ACT Tenant's Rights and Obligations during Tenancy

During the agreement, the tenant has a number of general rights and obligations. It is important for both landlords and tenants to read this section to understand their roles.

This guide covers landlords (or head-tenants) and tenants (or sub-tenants) in a Residential Tenancy. This applies to the majority of share accommodation and residential property rental situations. To confirm it covers your situation visit What is my share accommodation situation?

What are the tenant’s rights?

Tenants have a number of rights owed to them by the landlord during the tenancy. These include:

Right to a copy of the tenancy agreement
The landlord must give the tenant a written copy of the residential tenancy agreement after it has been signed by both parties. The copy must be given within 3 weeks of the agreement being signed and received by the landlord.

Legal right to occupy premises as a residence
The landlord must ensure that there are no legal impediments to using the premises as a residence. Legal impediments to occupation could include:

  • rezoning of the area to non-residential
  • if the premises has been compulsorily acquired by government
  • if the landlord does not have the right to let the premises

Right to non-interference by the landlord
The tenant has the right to not live at the premises without interference by the landlord. This means the landlord has an obligation to avoid any actions that interfere with the reasonable peace, comfort, or privacy of the tenant.

Although there is no set list of what constitutes an interference with peace, comfort, or privacy, some examples may include:

  • unnecessarily frequent requests for entry to the premises
  • entering the premises under unlawful circumstances (see the section on landlord’s entry rights for more information)
  • not maintaining the premises in a way that allows the tenant to live there comfortably
  • constantly making phone calls to the tenant or arriving at the premises unannounced
  • harassing, threatening, or assaulting the tenant

Right to sub-let with landlord’s consent
A tenant can sub-let part or all of the rented premises, but only if the landlord gives prior written consent.

The landlord can give consent for sub-letting at any time.

What are the tenant’s obligations?

Tenants also have a number of obligations during the tenancy. These include:

Must not damage premises
The tenant must not intentionally or negligently damage the premises, or allow damage to occur.

Notify landlord of any damage
If any damage occurs to the premises, regardless of who or what caused it, the tenant must notify the landlord as soon as possible. If the tenant does not notify the landlord as soon as possible, they may be liable for part of the repair cost if the problem has become worse because of the delay.

Take reasonable care of premises and contents
The tenant must take reasonable care of the premises and its contents. This generally means that the tenant must take care not to damage or destroy the premises or any inclusions. The tenant should also ensure that any guests or occupants take similar care when using the premises and its contents.

Leave premises clean and in close to original condition
When the agreement is over, the tenant must leave the premises in a clean condition and remove all their belongings. The premises must be left in substantially the same condition as it was at the beginning of the tenancy, allowing for fair wear and tear. This means that the premises should be left almost the same as it was when the tenant moved in, with natural or normal deterioration allowed.

Must comply with strata rules
If the rented premises is a flat, unit, or apartment subject to strata rules or owners corporation’s rules, the tenant must comply with those rules.

To allow the tenant to comply with strata rules, the landlord should supply a tenant with a copy at the beginning of the tenancy.

Must not use premises for illegal purpose
The tenant must not use the premises for any illegal purpose, such as drug production or manufacture. The tenant must also prevent any other person from using the premises for an illegal purpose.

Must only use premises for residential purposes
Unless the tenant and landlord agree otherwise, the rented premises must only be used by the tenant for residential purposes. This means, for example, that the tenant cannot use the premises for business or commercial purposes unless the landlord has agreed beforehand.

Must not create a nuisance
The tenant must not cause (or allow someone else to cause) a nuisance to anyone. Examples of nuisances can include excessive noise, violence, unpleasant smells, rubbish, car parking, criminal activity, harassing neighbours, or other offensive behaviour.

Must not interfere with the quiet enjoyment of neighbours
The tenant must not cause or permit interference with the quiet enjoyment by neighbours of their premises. Although there is no set list of interferences with neighbours’ quiet enjoyment, they can include:

  • excessive noise, especially if late at night
  • trespassing on neighbours’ land
  • unpleasant smells emanating caused by the tenant
  • bright lights shining onto the neighbour’s property
  • any violence or threats directed toward neighbours

Is the tenant responsible for the actions of guests at the premises?

The tenant is responsible for any breaches of their obligations that are caused by a person at the premises with the tenant’s consent. This includes visitors, guests, other occupants, and anyone who the tenant has allowed to come into the premises.

The tenant is not responsible for the actions of people at the premises at the request of the landlord (e.g. tradespeople sent by the landlord), or anyone else at the premises without the tenant’s consent. For example, a tenant is not liable for the actions or a burglar who has broken into the premises.

Back to ACT Rights and Obligations

These legal guides provide a brief summary and introduction of the laws and regulations affecting share accommodation. They do not cover all cases in all legal jurisdictions and might not apply in your specific share accommodation situation. It is important that you use this information as a guide only and seek independent Legal Advice or consult the Relevant Acts. We do not accept any liability that may arise from the use of this information.