TenantsTips / Australia / What is the residential tenancies act

What is the residential tenancies act

The Residential Tenancies Act 2010 is an act designed to detail the responsibilities of landlords and tenants with regards to rental properties.

The Act and the regulations set out a standard residential tenancy agreement that outlines the rights and obligations of landlords and tenants. The aim of the act is to protect both parties. The Act gives the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal (CTTT) power to hear and settle disputes relating to tenants and landlords.

Who does the residential tenancies act cover?


  • Private tenants with a tenancy agreement, either written or oral.
  • Social housing tenants, including housing association tenants & community housing providers. Social housing providers have certain specific rights and obligations under the Act.


Who/ what is not covered by the act?


  • Agreements relating to refuge or crisis.
  • Tenants who reside at retirement accommodation.
  • Hospitals and nursing homes.
  • Residential Park tenants who are covered by the Residential Parks Act 1998.
  • Persons protected by the Landlord and Tenant (Amendment) Act 1948.
  • Tenants residing in aged-care homes.
  • Hotels, motels and travel hostels.
  • Business or club premises used as non-permanent places of residency.
  • Premises used largely for work including services, professions or business.
  • Holiday park agreements.
  • Boarding and lodging agreements.
  • Short rental agreements that are taken out for the purpose of holidays.


When does the act not apply?

The Residential Tenancies Act is not applicable in the following cases:


  • If a tenant is living in company title premises.
  • Where an agreement was made by the tenant for the sale, purchase or mortgage of the residential premises.
  • Where a tenant has taken a tenancy as part of an equity purchase agreement which gives the tenant an option to buy.
  • Most family arrangements.


What are my rights under the Residential Tenancies Act?


  • To be supplied with a copy of the residential tenancy agreement, a condition report completed by the landlord/agent and a new tenant checklist.
  • To have premises rented to you that are fit for purpose and within a reasonable state of cleanliness.
  • To be given rent receipts (unless you pay rent into a nominated bank account).
  • To have at least one method of paying the rent for which you do not incur a cost.
  • To be given written notification of a rent increase (60 days).
  • To have quiet enjoyment and use of the premises (the landlord/agent must not interfere with your possession of the premises).
  • To enjoy privacy and only give the landlord access in certain circumstances and with proper notice.
  • To be notified of the change of name or address of the landlord or their agent.
  • Privacy, peace & comfort within the premises.
  • To have adequate locks and security.
  • To have repairs and maintenance completed in a timely manner.
  • Reimbursement for any urgent repairs that you have paid for (up to $1000).
  • To make an application to the CTTT for orders if the landlord has failed to adhere to the tenancy agreement.
  • To be notified in writing if the landlord wishes to terminate the tenancy agreement.
  • Not to be unlawfully evicted.


What are my obligations under the act?


  • To complete the condition report and send the landlord a copy within 7 days.
  • To pay rent on time.
  • To care for the premises.
  • To report any repairs or maintenance required.
  • To cover the cost for any damage caused by you or your guests.
  • To get the landlord’s permission to make alterations or additions.
  • To get the landlord’s consent to alter, remove or add a lock (except in certain domestic violence situations).
  • To respect the privacy of neighbours.
  • Not to use the property for any illegal purposes.
  • Not to cause a nuisance.
  • To give the landlord proper notification when you leave.
  • To ensure the property is in a similar state to when you rented them, except for normal wear and tear.


If you fail to honour your responsibilities you can be said to have ‘breached’ (broken) the term/s of the agreement.

Standard tenancy agreement conditions:

The Act states that landlords must refer to and comply with the standard terms set out in the Residential Tenancies Regulation 2010. A number of the terms are listed above.

The terms of the standard residential tenancy agreement cannot be varied (except for tenancy agreements that are for a fixed term of 20 years or more).

Void terms:

A term is void if it is inconsistent with any term of the standard residential tenancy agreement, or prohibited by the Act or Regulation.

Prohibited terms:

As outlined in Section 19(2) of the Act terms having the following effects cannot be included in a residential tenancy agreement:


  • That the tenant has carpets cleaned by industrial cleaners, or pay the cost of such cleaning, at the end of the tenancy [unless the cleaning is required because animals have been kept on the premises during the tenancy].
  • That the tenant is obliged to take out any form of insurance.
  • Exempting landlord liability in any case where the landlord is responsible.
  • That the tenant is liable for remaining rent or penalty if the tenant breaches the agreement.
  • That rent may be reduced or a rebate may be given if the tenant does not breach the agreement.


In addition, the regulation says:

“A residential tenancy agreement must not contain a term having the effect that the tenant must use the services of a specified person or business to carry out any of the tenant’s obligations under the agreement.”

Additional terms:

Terms may be added to the standard residential tenancy agreement if:


  • Both the landlord and tenant agree to them.
  • They do conflict with relative legislation such as the Residential Tenancies Act 2010.
  • They do not oppose the terms of the standard agreement.


If you are uncertain about an additional term, seek advice from your local housing advice centre or apply to the CTTT for an order to determine that the term is valid.


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