TenantsTips / Australia / What is the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal

What is the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal

The New South Wales Civil & Administrative Tribunal is an independent organization which assesses and mediates disputes between tenants and landlords.

NCAT is not a formal court, although decisions made by the organization are legally binding. Tribunal members hear cases most of which relate to breaches of residential tenancy agreements.

How can I apply for a hearing?

To apply for a hearing you should fill out an application form. These are available from your local Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service, Fair Trading Centres and directly from the NCAT website. Advice on filling out the form is included with the application.

Time limits:

You have 3 months from the time you became aware of the breach to make an application for a hearing. If the time limit has passed you may ask for an extension.

Fees:

Applications cost $38 dollars. If you receive a government benefit or pension you may be eligible to pay a reduced fee. Applicants who can provide proof of benefit or pension will pay a fee of $5 dollars.

If the tribunal finds that your application is not serious or finds you guilty of wasting Tribunal time you may be liable to pay the landlord’s costs.

Representation:

Representation by another party is not necessary and in most circumstances tenants represent themselves. However, if you can prove to the Tribunal that you require representation you may be allowed to let another person speak on your behalf. This is usually a tenant advocate.

Landlords are granted permission to use agents as representatives.

In special circumstances solicitors may represent landlords and tenants.

Should I attend the hearing?

Yes. It is advised that you attend the hearing so that you are present to defend yourself and you fully understand any orders that are granted. If you do not attend you could be unaware of any of the following:

  • The landlord making false claims in your absence.
  • You have been evicted.
  • You have been ordered to pay charges.

What should I take to a hearing?

Any evidence that supports your argument will be required by the Tribunal member hearing the case. If possible take copies of any documents that you are providing as evidence. Documents that support your argument can include any of the following:

  • A summary of the case.
  • The Residential Tenancy Agreement.
  • Copies of any correspondence between you and the landlord.
  • Receipts.
  • Photographs.

Can I change the date of a hearing?

If NCAT set a date for the hearing that you genuinely cannot attend you should write to the Tribunal and request an alternative date. You must give a valid reason for the request. If you do not receive a response you should attend the hearing as it may take place in your absence.

The first hearing:

At the first hearing the tribunal member will encourage you to negotiate with the landlord and reach an understanding. This is known as conciliation. However, you should not feel pressured to agree to something if you think it is unfair. If an agreement cannot be reached you are entitled to have your case heard by a tribunal member. This hearing may take place on the same day or on a separate date.

During a hearing:

At an informal hearing the tribunal member will hear the argument of the tenant, the landlord and any representatives. They will consider any evidence brought before them and ask questions about the case. Once they have taken all the supporting evidence into account they will make a decision regarding the case. These decisions are known as orders.

If the case is complex in nature a formal hearing similar to a court case will take place.

Appeal applications:

The decisions made by NCAT can be questioned and challenged. If you think that a decision or order is wrong you should appeal in a timely manner. Actions that question the decisions of the NCAT include the following procedures:

  • Appeals to the tribunal.
  • Application to set aside or vary a decision.
  • Appeals to the Supreme Court.
  • Judicial Review by the Supreme Court.

If you are considering any of the procedures aforementioned you should first seek advice from your local Tenants Advice Service.



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