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Darwin Community Legal Service recently represented a tenant seeking compensation for items stolen during a home invasion robbery.

The case was heard at The Northern Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NTCAT) which found that the landlord had failed in their responsibility under section 49(1) of the Residential Tenancy Act to provide reasonable security and ordered that the landlord pay $5,026 to Ashlee to compensate for the stolen property.

Ashlee’s home was broken into twice, and each time Ashlee asked the company managing her rental property to improve security.

These requests were not acted upon.

The third break-in was a home invasion, Ashlee woke to find three men in her bedroom who stole her phone and a collection of jewellery. Thankfully Ashlee was not physically assaulted.

This is the second compensation pay-out of its kind in The Northern Territory, both to tenants represented by DCLS.

A clear precedent has now been set, placing greater responsibility on landlords to ‘properly assess’ security arrangements at their properties.

This responsibility is even greater where a change in circumstances make break-ins more likely. Such factors may include increased criminal activity in the vicinity of a property, previous attempted or successful break-ins or a change in personal circumstances that make a tenant feel unsafe.

The NTCAT determined that;

  • Landlords have a duty to provide adequate security at all times during the tenancy.
  • Even where a tenant has not requested upgrades in security, the onus still falls on the landlord to ensure that security is adequate.
  • If a landlord is aware of a change in circumstances affecting the adequacy of security they should consider improving security or risk paying compensation if a break-in occurs and tenants suffer loss.

Tenants should always report in writing to their landlords or property managers any security concerns they have or incidents relating to safety and security. Anytime a criminal act occurs or they feel unsafe tenants should always report the incident to police.

Everyone is entitled to feel safe in their homes, even if they are a tenant. Its considered a basic human right.

If you are a tenant and have questions about security issues relating to your property or other tenancy related issues contact Darwin Community Legal Service on 1800 812 953.

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