Northern Territory Rent Payments
In the NT the maximum rent in advance a landlord can ask for is one rental payment. Receipts are required by law for all cash or cheque payments. The landlord must give 30 days written notice for any rent increases.
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?
Rent is a regular payment made by the tenant(s) to the landlord in return for the right of use of the property or room.
The tenant is required to pay the rent to the landlord on the day that the rent is due. The tenant can also choose to pay rent before the due date.
There are restrictions on the types of payments that a landlord can receive from a tenant during a tenancy. Rent is one of types of payment allowed. The Rental Bond and charges for utilities are the other main types of payments allowed during the tenancy.
What is the maximum rent in advance that can be charged?
There are some restrictions on the amount of rent in advance that can be paid and how it can be used.
The maximum amount of rent in advance that the landlord can require from the tenant is 1 rental payment in advance.
Alternatively, a tenant can volunteer to pay as much rent in advance as they wish.
Once rent in advance has been paid, the landlord cannot require the tenant to pay any further rent until it becomes due.
How should rent be paid?
The method of paying rent should be agreed to by the tenant and landlord in the residential tenancy agreement. It is recommended that the tenant and landlord agree on an alternative means of payment in case issues arise with the main method.
The landlord cannot require the tenant to pay rent by cheque. The tenant may volunteer to pay the rent by cheque however.
The most popular ways of paying rent in a share accommodation situation are via direct bank transfer or in cash
Other payment methods could include cheque, credit card, BPAY or PayPal. Never pay rent via an untraceable money transfer system such as Western Union.
It is best practice for the landlord to not require the tenant to pay rent in a method that incurs a fee for transfer or deposit of funds. This includes fees charged by third party payment systems.
Are receipts required for rent payments?
Keeping track of rent payments through receipts and other permanent, written records is an important part of securing a tenancy and preventing any issues from arising.
In the Northern Territory, the landlord (or agent) must give a receipt immediately when a rent payment is made in person by the tenant with cash.
If the rent is paid in cash by another person on the tenant’s behalf, the landlord must give the tenant a receipt by the end of the next business day.
If the rent is paid by cheque, the landlord must give the tenant a receipt within 3 business days if the tenant requests a receipt.
No receipt is required by law for electronic payments. This is because the electronic transaction record acts as a permanent record of the payment. Although this is sufficient, a written receipt gives greater certainty and clarity.
Although receipts are not always required by law depending on the way rent is paid, asking for and giving receipts regardless of payment method is best practice for landlords and tenants alike. In the unlikely event that a dispute arises regarding payment of rent, receipts are the main form of evidence used.
What should be in a receipt?
The receipt should clearly indicate that it is a receipt—it is advisable for each receipt to be a separate document rather than entries in a rent receipt book.
When a receipt is given, it should include the following details:
- Date the rent payment is received
- Name of the tenant
- Amount of rent paid
- Period of the tenancy to which the payment relates
- Address of the rental premises
Does the landlord need to keep Rental Records?
The landlord is also required to keep a record of rent paid, regardless of whether a receipt was given for the payments. If a receipt was given for the payment, then keeping a copy of the receipt is sufficient. The record should include the following details for each rental payment:
- Amount of rent paid
- Date the payment was received
- Period of tenancy to which the payment relates
- Address of the premises rent is paid for
The tenant can request to examine the rental record kept by the landlord at any time. If the tenant makes a request, the landlord should give access to the records as soon as possible.
What are the laws for rent increases?
Landlords are allowed to increase the amount of rent payable during the course of the tenancy. For the protection and certainty of both parties, there are restrictions on the when and how rent can be increased.
For the landlord to increase the rent, the tenancy agreement have a term that gives the right to increase, and which specifies the amount of the increase or the method of calculating the increase. This requirement makes both the tenant and landlord aware of the potential for increases when entering the tenancy and reduces the likelihood of problems arising at a later point.
When rent can be increased
Rent can only be increased if the tenant is given at least 30 days written notice. The landlord is only allowed to increase the rent at least 6 months after the beginning of the tenancy. Any subsequent increases can only be made once every 6 months.
As mentioned above, the rent can only be increased if the agreement allows this. The agreement must state either the increased rent amount, or at least a method for calculating the increased rent. It is in all parties’ best interests to at least discuss the potential for a rent increase during the course of the tenancy.
30 Days Written Notice
The requirement of 30 days written notice for any rent increase is very important as it allows both the tenant and landlord time to discuss and prepare for any increase. Any increase in rent that does not follow this requirement is invalid.
Use the official Northern Territory Rent Increase Notice.
To ensure that this requirement is met, there are a number of things to remember:
- The notice must be written, but can take many forms—e.g. email, posted letter, text message
- The notice should very clearly and explicitly state the following:
- Amount of the increase,
- When the increase begins, and
- That the notice states an intention to increase rent.
- The notice should make the tenant aware of the increase at least 30 days before the increase is scheduled to occur—even if the tenancy agreement provides for the increase, the landlord must still give a later notice of at least 30 days.
What is the rent becomes excessive?
If the tenant believes that the rental rate has become excessive, the first step should be to discuss the issue with the landlord. If the landlord and tenant cannot come to an agreement, then the tenant can apply to the Commissioner of Tenancies for a review of the increase. Check out our Resolving Disputes page for more information.
Rent can be considered excessive because of an increase in the rental rate, or because the quality or nature of the premises has been reduced while the rent remains the same.
The Commissioner of Tenancies has the power to change the rental rate under the agreement.
The rent under a tenancy agreement may also be reduced. In the Northern Territory, rent can be decreased by agreement between the tenant and landlord in two ways:
Firstly, the tenant and landlord can agree to reduce the rent payable at any time.
Secondly, the tenancy agreement can include as a term rent reductions for specific periods.
Transferring money safely
When paying your deposit, bond or rent by cash make sure you get a receipt. With modern phones this can be as simple as an SMS or email confirming the amount, date and what it is for. Keep a copy of this incase you need it later.
Never ever transfer money to a bank account outside of Australia or use a untraceable money transfer system such as WESTERN UNION. If anyone asks you to do this on any website it is likely to be a scam and you are almost guaranteed to lose your money.
If this ever happens on Flatmates.com.au report the member immediately so we can investigate and take the appropriate action.
You might also be interested in
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.