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WHAT ARE YOUR HOUSING LEGAL RIGHTS

For many years, renters who lived in non standard types of housing, such as boarding houses, some share housing or student accommodation had few accessible legal rights.

In 2012, the state government changed some of this by passing the Boarding Houses Act 2012. This law will give some legal rights to “vulnerable” people living in assisted boarding houses and to others living in registerable boarding houses accommodating five or more residents, excluding the proprietor or staff.

On this page we try to give a brief outline of the legal rights that different types of renters have, with links to more detailed information if it is available.


Get advice!
If you don’t live in a standard tenancy, finding out what your rights are can be complex and difficult. Some landlords may try to avoid their legal obligations by making tenancies look like something else (for example, by making tenants sign “occupancy agreements”). People who do not live in a standard tenancy should always seek advice from EATS or their local Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service. Follow this link http://www.tenants.org.au and enter your postcode to get the contact details of your local service.

Tenants, lodgers and others

Link   You can get an idea of your legal status by looking at the quiz here. This will give you an indication only. If you suspect you are not a tenant you should get advice.

Tenants
Most renters are legally classified as tenants. Their rights and obligations are set out in the Residential Tenancies Act 2010. Tenants rent their homes from a landlord, often through a real estate agent. Most tenants live in a self contained home, or have a written Residential Tenancy Agreement with their landlord or head tenant.
Tenants legal rights include the right to:

  • Use their place how they see fit, without damaging it
  • Privacy from interference by their landlord
  • Get repairs and maintenance done
  • Claim compensation from their landlord if they breach your agreement
  • 90 days notice of termination from the landlord after the fixed term agreement has expired
  • Apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) to get disputes with the landlord resolved, including disputes about the return of bonds

Most of the resources contained on this site relate to tenants. If you have a problem with your landlord, a good place to start is by looking at the fact sheets at http://www.tenants.org.au

Residents of larger boarding houses
Residents of boarding houses (not hotels or hostels) with more than five residents may be covered by the Boarding Houses Act 2012. Residents have rights to:

  • Live in your room with undue interference from the landlord
  • A minimum standard of cleanliness and maintenance
  • Claim compensation from the landlord if they breach the agreement
  • The notice period to move out as included in the agreement or set by the occupancy principles
  • Apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) to get disputes with the landlord resolved, including disputes about the return of your bond or security deposit.

 

Link
The Boarding Houses Act 2012
The Boarding Houses Act 2012 Follow the link and then click on Boarding Houses Act 2012 No 74 towards the top of the left hand column.
Link
Summary of the Boarding Houses Act 2012
See an outline of the provisions of the Boarding Houses Act 2012.

Landlord running a business
If it can be shown that a landlord is in the business of providing accommodation residents may be able to pursue some rights through the General Division of the NCAT.
These are nowhere near as comprehensive as tenancy rights. However in some cases residents may be able to:

  • get their bonds or security deposits returned if they have been unjustifiably kept by the landlord
  • Get some redress if the landlord has broken the contract
  • Get a refund of money paid if the premises can be shown to not be fit for the purpose of a residence
Link
Your legal avenues if you have had difficulties with your landlord and you think you can show that they were renting to you as part of a business


Boarders and lodgers who aren’t covered above
This category covers people who are subtenants in share houses without written agreements, boarders or lodgers who do not live in boarding houses with more than five residents, and residents of private homes who cannot show that their landlord is running a business.

Firstly, you should check your agreement with a Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service. It is possible that you are a tenant.

Otherwise, you may be able to pursue your landlord for a limited range of matters in the local courts, for return of bond or breach of contract. This can be difficult and complicated. You could need detailed legal advice. Click here for a basic outline of how to pursue matters through the local courts.

If your problem relates to a landlord or head tenant interfering with your privacy or threatening or actually kicking you out with inadequate notice, seek urgent advice. In some cases that could be to cut your losses and find a better place to live, which is often, we know, easier said than done.

If you have been or feel threatened by your landlord or their associates, contact the police immediately. In these circumstances, you should also call your local Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service.