Darwin Community Legal Service

Discrimination and renting

If you live in a house, unit, boarding house or hostel, caravan or caravan site, you have rights under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1992 (NT).

Who does the law apply to?
The Anti-Discrimination Act 1992 (NT) (“the Act”) applies to everybody in the Northern Territory!


What is Discrimination?
In the Northern Territory, discrimination means treating a person badly because of that persons:

  • race
  • sex
  • sexuality
  • age
  • marital status
  • pregnancy
  • parenthood
  • breastfeeding
  • impairment
  • religious belief or activity
  • political opinion, affiliation or activity
  • medical record
  • criminal record
  • association with a person who has, or is believed to have have one of these qualities.


Discrimination in accommodation
It is against the law for someone to discriminate against you:

By failing or refusing to accept your application for accommodation

For example, if an advertisement for a rental property says that the landlord will not accept applications from single parents

By failing or refusing to supply accommodation

For example, if a boarding house operator refuses to provide someone with a room, telling them it is because they are too old

In the way that an application for accommodation is processed

For example, if a real estate agent places you lower on a list of potential tenants because you have a disability

In the terms and conditions on which accommodation is offered, renewed or extended

For example, if a landlord offers a person a property, but only if they pay a higher security deposit (bond) than what was advertised


If you are already staying in accommodation, it is against the law for someone to discriminate against you:

By changing the terms or conditions of your accommodation

For example, if you become a parent and the landlord requires the tenant to pay additional rent because of this

By not providing, or limiting your access to any benefit associated with your accommodation

For example, if you become disabled and the landlord does not provide reasonable access to the common gym

By evicting you

For example, if your landlord says they will not give you the correct notice period to terminate because you are not married

By treating you badly in any way in connection with the accommodation

For example, not completing repairs because your landlord does not help Labor voters.


If you have a physical or mental disability, your landlord can not stop you from making reasonable changes to your house to help with your special needs. For example, putting a handrail in the shower. However, your landlord may require you to pay for the changes yourself.


How to make a complaint if you have been discriminated against
If you have been discriminated against, you can make a complaint to the Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commission (‘ADC’). Complaints to the ADC must be in writing and you need to provide details of what happened and who discriminated against you.

You will need to show that you have been treated less favourably compared to someone else based on having one of the 14 attributes listed previously. For example, if your tenancy application was refused based on your sexuality, you would need evidence to prove this.

TIP: You need to make a complaint within 6 months from when the discrimination occurred. The ADC can extend this time frame in some circumstances.

If a real estate agent has discriminated against you, you can make a complaint to the principal of the real estate agency. See the DCLS factsheet ‘Complaining about Real Estate Agents’ for more information.

More protection from discrimination
Tenants are also protected from discrimination under Commonwealth laws, which apply in all States and Territories. If you want more information about these laws, you can contact the Australian Human Rights Commission (‘AHRC’). You can make a complaint to the AHRC if you have been treated in a way that breaches these laws. You need to do this within 12 months of the discrimination occurring.


Darwin Community Legal Service 2019: Non-profit community groups have permission to reproduce parts of this publication as long as the original meaning is retained and proper credit is given to DCLS, as the publisher.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this publication is a guide to the law in the Northern Territory. It is not a substitute for legal advice. You should talk to a lawyer about your particular legal issue. The information contained in this factsheet is current as at November 2019.