New Tenancy Protection Laws Introduced to NT Parliament

Tuesday 13 February 2018 @ 10.19 a.m. | Legal Research

The introduction of laws improving protections for tenants against the misuse of tenancy blacklists has commenced with the introduction of the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill 2018 (No. 43 of 2018) (the Bill) to the NT House of Assembly on 8 February 2018, by the Hon Natasha Fyles.

The Bill is currently with the Economic Policy Scrutiny Committee where it is awaiting further discussion and submissions. It is proposed to amend the Residential Tenancies Act [1999] and the Residential Tenancies Regulations [2000].


The Bill’s Explanatory Statement (the ES) indicates that the Bill’s primary purpose:

“… is to provide a framework for the use of residential tenancy databases, and to set out the parameters for how landlords, landlord agents (real estate agents) and database operators can use, record and access personal information about tenants and potential tenants listed on residential tenancy databases.

According to a NT Government Media Release:

“… the Bill has introduced to Parliament critical amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act to bring the NT into line with national standards …”

The changes create regulations guiding how agents, lessors and database operators can use, record and access personal information about tenants and prospective tenants listed, and also provide that landlords can be penalised for doing the wrong thing.

Database owners will also need to comply with the new regulation when listing or using a tenant’s personal information on a database.

Outcome of the Proposed Amendments

The Bill will implement the national Residential Tenancy Database Model Provisions which were developed by the former Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (now the Council of Attorneys-General) and the former Ministerial Council on Consumer Affairs (now the Consumer Affairs Forum) during 2009 and 2010. The Bill sets out the nationally agreed minimum level of rights, obligations and limitations in relation to residential tenancy databases.

The other purpose of the Bill is procedural in nature, where it will address a drafting oversight during conferral of jurisdiction of residential tenancy matters to the Northern Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NTCAT) in the Northern Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal (Conferral of Jurisdiction Amendments) Act 2014 by formally providing the NTCAT with jurisdiction to hear matters arising under the former Tenancy Act.

Proposed Implementation of the Changes

Minister Fyles said all other Australian jurisdictions have enacted comprehensive regulatory provisions on this issue. She said recently in a Media Release:

“Most states have enacted national Model Provisions developed and agreed to by all Australian jurisdictions … Many local real estate agencies are already complying with the obligations, with key residential tenancy databases being based interstate and subject to relevant regulations.”

It’s envisaged the legislation could be in place by July 2018, with landlords, agents and database operators provided a further three months to review and modify existing database entries to comply with the new framework.

Comment and Reaction on the Proposed Changes

A key reform is the introduction of maximum time periods that tenants can be placed on a blacklist. Under current NT legislation, a tenant doing the wrong thing can be blacklisted potentially for life.

Andrew Smith, a Solicitor with Darwin Community Legal Service said:

“… the threat of being put on a blacklist is a powerful, coercive force that we regularly see exploited by real estate agents and property managers. Under current NT legislation, a tenant can be blacklisted for life. That’s extreme punishment for what are sometimes small or trivial issues. I had a tenant who was blacklisted for 7 years over a $400 dispute and left the territory when they couldn’t find a property to rent.”

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Campaign for Reforms to the Residential Tenancy Act hits Significant Milestone - Darwin Community Legal Service

Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill Introduced to Parliament - NT Government Media Release

Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill 2018 (NT) and supporting information available from TimeBase LawOne Service.

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