Darwin Community Legal Service

Residential Tenancies Act

What is the law that protects tenants?
The Residential Tenancies Act 1999 (NT) is the law that provides your rights as a tenant in the Northern Territory. This law applies to people who live in private and public housing rentals. The law does not apply to people who rent holiday accommodation, pay no rent, live in charitable accommodation or accommodation in a Caravan Park.

TIP: No verbal or written contract you enter into with a landlord or real estate agent can remove your rights as a tenant under the Residential Tenancies Act.


What are my rights as a tenant?
Under law, you have a right to:

  • be provided with a safe, clean and habitable property at the start of your tenancy;
  • have all the locks in your home maintained to ensure that your house is reasonably safe and secure;
  • have thing that are broken in your home repaired within a reasonable amount of time from when you request them;
  • enjoy peace and privacy in your home without unlawful interruption by the real estate agent or landlord;
  • get a receipt if you pay your rent in cash;
  • the opportunity to pay back rent arrears if you have fallen behind in your rent;
  • write to your landlord or agent challenging a rent increase; and
  • be given a written and signed notice if your tenancy is being terminated.


What are my responsibilities under the law?
Under law, you must:

  • not give false information to the agent or landlord;
  • not damage or allow a visitor to damage the property;
  • not change or add locks without the consent of the landlord (unless you have a reasonable excuse);
  • not use the property for an illegal purpose;
  • not cause a nuisance or interfere with the peace or privacy of your neighbours;
  • not make changes, or modify your home unless the landlord agrees;
  • not have someone live with you long term unless the landlord agrees;
  • pay a security deposit according to your tenancy agreement;
  • pay your rent;
  • keep the property reasonably clean;
  • tell the landlord if repairs are needed; and
  • tell the landlord if no one will be living in the property for more than 30 days.


What can I do if my rights have been breached?
If you think your rights are being breached the first thing you should do is try and resolve the issue with your agent or landlord directly. If you can’t come to a resolution, you can give them a breach notice (see the DCLS Factsheet on breach notices).

TIP: If you think something is not right, or you are unsure, it is always best to get legal advice.


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.