Northern Territory Tenant's Rights and Obligations

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?

Right to vacant possession at beginning of tenancy
The tenant has the right to have vacant possession of the premises from the beginning of the tenancy. Vacant possession means that no one apart from the tenant, including the landlord, is occupying or has the right to occupy the rented premises. When the landlord intends to also use parts of the premises, it is therefore very important that the tenancy agreement states which parts of the property are exclusively for use by the tenant and which parts are for shared use.

In share accommodation, vacant possession is particularly important. If a person is renting a room in a shared house, they will have exclusive possession over their room, and shared use of the other facilities and rooms of the house, such as the bathroom or kitchen. In this situation, the tenant is therefore entitled to vacant possession of their room. The tenancy agreement should clearly state which parts of the property are for exclusive use by the tenant, and which parts are for shared use.

Right to quiet enjoyment of premises
The tenant has the right to quiet enjoyment of the rented premises without interruption by the landlord. This means that the landlord is under an obligation not to do anything or to allow anything to happen which may interfere with the reasonable peace or privacy of the tenant.

There is no set list of things that are interferences or interruptions of quiet enjoyment. However, there are a number of common examples where the landlord is infringing on the rights of the tenant:

  • attempting to evict a tenant when not allowed to do so
  • the landlord entering the premises when not allowed to do so
  • the landlord retaining or using part of the premises contrary to the tenancy agreement
  • excessive noise
  • excessive dust
  • interference by the landlord with facilities provided with the tenancy
  • failing to carry out repairs when required to do so
  • interfering with the tenant’s access to the rented premises
  • overcrowding of the rented premises caused by the landlord

In share accommodation where the landlord lives in the same property, respecting the tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment is particularly important. The landlord should understand that the tenant has the right to use rented premises without unreasonable or unnecessary disturbances. The best way to avoid any problems arising is for the landlord and tenant to discuss at the beginning of the tenancy how the share accommodation will work in practice.

Right to join tenants’ associations
The tenant has the right to join a tenants’ association if they wish to do so. The landlord cannot refuse to renew an agreement because the tenant has joined an association. The landlord also cannot threaten to terminate the agreement if the tenant joins a tenants’ association.

What are the tenant’s obligations?

Must not allow premises to remain in a dirty condition
During the tenancy, the tenant must not allow the premises, or any good supplied as part of the tenancy, to become unreasonably dirty. This means that the tenant should clean the premises regularly and try to maintain it in its original condition. Fair wear and tear (i.e. natural deterioration) is allowed.

Must notify landlord of any damage to property
The tenant must notify the landlord as soon as possible of any damage to the premises or included property.

If the tenant fails to notify the landlord, and the damage or disrepair to the premises is made worse by the delay, then the landlord may not be liable for the full cost of repair. In this situation, the tenant may be responsible for part of the repair costs.

Must not damage the premises or neighbouring property
The tenant must not intentionally or negligently damage the premises.

Must not damage any common areas
If the premises is a unit, flat, or apartment, the tenant must not intentionally or negligently damage any common areas in the building.

Return premises in clean and reasonable condition
When the agreement is over, the tenant must leave the premises in a reasonably clean condition and in a reasonable state of repair.

The premises must be left in substantially the same condition as it was at the beginning of the tenancy, allowing for reasonable 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.

As a general guide, the tenant should try to leave the premises in a condition that requires no further work before a new tenant can move in.

Must not use premises for illegal purpose
The tenant must not use the premises or any included property for any illegal purpose, such as drug production or manufacture.

Must not cause a nuisance at the premises
The tenant must not cause or permit 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 repeatedly interfere with the peace and privacy of neighbours
The tenant must not repeatedly interfere 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 from the premises caused by the tenant
  • bright lights shining onto the neighbour’s property
  • any violence or threats directed toward neighbours

Must notify landlord if premises unoccupied for 30+ days
If the tenant intends to not occupy the premises for 30 or more days during the agreement, they must notify the landlord beforehand.

This is an important obligation as it prevents any confusion for the landlord who may think that the tenant has abandoned the premises.

Back to Northern Territory 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.