The Residential Tenancies Act 1997(the Act) commenced on 26 May 1998.
Previously, residential tenancy disputes were determined in the ACT Magistrates
Court under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1949.
JURISDICTION OF THE TRIBUNAL
The Residential Tenancies Tribunal (RTT) is an independent body, which has
exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine all matters arising from private and public
CONSTITUTION OF THE RESIDENTIAL
A President, Acting President, and seven Members constitute the Tribunal. The
Minister of Justice and Community Safety appoints the Members.
The Act also provides the President with power to appoint Referees to determine
disputes, subject to parameters, as prescribed by Section 116 of the Act.
WHAT DOES THE TRIBUNAL DO ?
There are two types of applications a person may make to the Tribunal.
Application for Endorsement
An application for endorsement should be lodged when a lessor (or their agent) and a
tenant enter into a new tenancy agreement and the parties agree to additional terms
being included in the agreement that are inconsistent with the “prescribed terms”.
The “prescribed terms” is a schedule included at the end of the Act. It contains 100
standard terms that should be included in all leases in the ACT. (Examples of clauses
that need to be endorsed include Defence Posting Clauses and No Pet Clauses).
Where the Tribunal has not endorsed an inconsistent term, it cannot be relied upon in
any hearing before the tribunal.
A copy of the proposed lease, the “prescribed terms” and proposed additional clause
should accompany lodgement of an application for endorsement. An application for
endorsement does not attract a filing fee. Applications are generally decided on the
papers included in the application – if more information is required, the Tribunal will
inform the parties in writing.
It should be noted that an application for endorsement must be agreed to and signed
by both the lessor and the tenant/s. Any evidence indicating fraud or undue influence
may render the application void.
Applications for the Resolution of a Dispute
A dispute arising out of a Residential Tenancies Agreement can be lodged with the
Tribunal by either the landlord or the tenant. Examples of some applications
commonly sought include applications:
by a tenant for the termination of a tenancy agreement;
by a lessor for a termination and possession order;
by a lessor for an order for the payment of rent arrears;
by a tenant for a stay of an eviction;
by a tenant for an order for compensation and/or reinstatement for
by a lessor for an order for compensation where a tenant abandons a
premises before a fixed term tenancy agreement expires;
by either party for a review of a rental rate increase;
by a tenant for a reduction in the rental rate payable and
reimbursement of the rent paid and payable;
An application may be, but is not limited to the disputes referred to above.
All applications are subject to a filing fee. The size of the fee depends on the nature
of the dispute. Information about fees is available in this kit, on the Court website or
at the Tribunal.
A kit providing all the information and forms necessary to lodge an application, is
available at the Tribunal. An electronic copy is available on the Court website or can
be obtained by email from the Tribunal staff.
Upon receipt of an application, the Registrar will assess the best way to process the
matter. It may be the matter is referred for mediation, or alternatively, be set down
for hearing before a referee or Tribunal member. In any event, the Tribunal will
endeavour to resolve the dispute within 14 days of service of the application on the
Written notice of the process adopted will be sent to each party as soon as possible
after lodgement. The notice will also include the date and time and location set for
the conference or hearing.
In appropriate cases, the Registrar may conduct a pre-hearing conference. The
objective of the conference is to:
define and limit the relevant issued in dispute;
ensure that the parties have uses all their endeavours to resolve the dispute;
actively assist the parties to resolve the dispute; and
assess the time likely to be required for any hearing.
If a consent agreement between the parties is reached at the conference, the terms of
the agreement are registered with the Tribunal. If the matter is not resolved at the
conference, the Registrar will then refer it to the President, Member or Legal Referee
for consideration. Where the consent agreement is approved, the Registrar will draft
orders in accordance with the agreement and the order will then be registered as an
Order of the Tribunal. Parties will receive a copy of the order/s within 7 days.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: An agreement by the parties filed with the Tribunal
pursuant to subsection 84(2) of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 may be enforced
as if it were an order of the Tribunal.
Applications are listed for hearing depending on the issues in dispute. It is possible
the matter will be listed for conference before a deputy registrar, hearing before a
Legal Referee, or hearing before a Member. In exceptional circumstances, the matter
may be listed before the President or Deputy President. All hearings are recorded and
parties will receive written notice advising the date, time and location of the hearing.
At hearing, the Tribunal will invite the parties to add anything further to what they
have already presented in their application or defence, and except in exceptional
circumstances, proceed to hear and determine the matter there and then.
WHAT HAPPENS IF A PARTY FAILS TO ATTEND A PRE-
HEARING CONFERENCE OR HEARING?
If a party to the dispute fails to attend a conference or hearing, the Tribunal may:
order that the matter be again set down for hearing;
take such other steps before the conference/hearing proceeds, as the Tribunal
adjourn the proceedings;
if the party is the applicant - dismiss the application;
if the party is the respondent - make orders in favour of the applicant.
If both parties fail to appear, the Tribunal may strike out the application.
DO PARTIES HAVE TO BE LEGALLY
A person appearing at a hearing may be represented at the hearing by a legal
practitioner or an agent.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: Costs are rarely awarded in the Tribunal and usually only
in cases where one side has caused an unreasonable obstruction or delay in
WHAT ARE THE OPTIONS IF A PARTY IS NOT
REPRESENTED BUT IS UNABLE TO PHYSICALLY ATTEND
Where a party is unavailable to attend a conference or hearing, arrangements can be
made for a teleconference. This is done by telephone hook-up. Parties should contact
the Tribunal prior to the conference or hearing to enable appropriate arrangements to
IMPORTANT NOTICE: The cost of a telephone hook-up must be borne by the
party requesting this service.
PROCEDURAL POWERS & ORDERS OF
PROCEDURAL POWERS OF TRIBUNAL
The Tribunal has wide ranging powers. These are specified at Section 102 of the Act.
In addition to those powers, the Tribunal may, in certain circumstances, and where
satisfied, make an interim order, for a period of 14 days, if it believes the party
applying for the interim order would suffer detriment if the Order was not made. It
can, in accordance with section 103 of the Act, rescind, vary or extend the interim
order for a further period of 14 days.
The Tribunal may make a variety of orders. Some orders which are commonly made
an order terminating a tenancy agreement;
an order granting a termination and possession order to have effect as a
warrant of eviction;
an order for the payment of rent arrears;
an order for a stay of eviction;
an order for compensation and/or reinstatement for wrongful eviction;
an order for compensation where a tenant abandons a premises before a
fixed term tenancy agreement expires;
an order accepting, declining or partly accepting a rental rate increase;
an order reducing the rental rate payable;
an order refunding rent already paid as compensation;
such other order as the tribunal considers appropriate.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Tribunal shall give each party to a hearing written
notice setting out the terms of any order made within 7 days of making such an order.
WHAT IF A PARTY FAILS TO COMPLY WITH AN ORDER OF
Where a party fails to comply with an order of the Tribunal, the Tribunal may, if
appropriate, order a person to pay a specified amount (not exceeding $5,000.00) to the
Where a party fails to comply with an order requiring the payment of an amount of
money, the order should be registered with the Magistrates Court (Civil Jurisdiction)
for enforcement. Once registered, it is then dealt with as if the order of that Court.
There is no charge to register a judgment with the Magistrates Court, however some
enforcement proceedings may attract a further fee.
If a termination and possession order is made and the tenant fails to vacate the
premises on the date ordered, the Tribunal will, upon application from the lessor,
issue a warrant authorising the police to evict the tenant and anyone residing in the
premises upon giving two days notice.
If a conditional termination and possession order is breached, the lessor may apply to
the Tribunal for a warrant of eviction. Upon being satisfied that a breach of the order
has occurred, the Registrar will serve upon the tenant a notice of eviction, informing
them of the breach and that a warrant for eviction will be issued.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: The notice of eviction gives the tenant two days to lodge
an application to stay the warrant if they believe there was no breach of the order. If
no such application is received the Registrar will issue a warrant for eviction,
authorising the police to evict the tenant and anyone residing in the premises upon
giving two days notice.
CAN A PARTY SEEK A REVIEW OF OR
APPEAL A DECISION OF THE TRIBUNAL?
DECISIONS OF A REFEREE
In cases where a party or parties are not satisfied with an order of a referee, the party/s
may seek a review of the decision by the Tribunal. Where a referee makes an order,
gives a direction or does any other act in connection with proceedings the Tribunal
may, on application made by any party to the tenancy dispute, review the order,
direction or other act and may make such order by way of confirmation, variation,
discharge or otherwise as the Tribunal thinks just.
DECISIONS OF THE TRIBUNAL
A party to a Tribunal hearing may appeal to the Supreme Court on a question of law
from a decision of the Tribunal in that hearing. Appeals must be instituted no later
than 28 days after receipt of notice of the order.
WHAT PARTIES CAN EXPECT FROM STAFF OF THE
The Tribunal has a responsibility and a duty to those who approach it to facilitate
dispute resolution which is just, prompt and economical.
Parties can expect the staff of the Tribunal to provide a timely, efficient and sensitive
service to all users accessing the Tribunal. Staff of the Tribunal will also provide
assistance with applications and advice regarding the preparation of relevant
Tribunal staff are unable to offer legal advice or inform parties of their legal rights and
obligations. If a party requires legal assistance or advice, the staff of the Tribunal are
able to refer parties to the relevant services where such guidance can be sought.
Tribunal hearings are open to the public unless, for exceptional reasons, the Tribunal
is of the opinion that the proceedings should be closed. The staff however, are unable
to provide information concerning matters being processed unless the requesting
person is a party to the proceedings.
WHAT WE WOULD LIKE FROM YOU
To assist the Tribunal in disposing of matters in a timely, cost effective and efficient
manner; please remember to:
ensure that your application is completed in full with the nature of the dispute
attach your statement and all relevant documents and material to your
if represented, provide the name and contact details of your solicitor or agent;
advise staff of times and dates that you may not be available for any
conciliation process or hearing;
if you are unable to attend personally and you are not represented, advise with
regard to telephone contact details; and
if you are defending an application, provide a written statement addressing all
the issues mentioned in the application at least 3 days before the hearing and
ensure that any other documents you wish to rely upon are accompanied with
Further information on the Tribunal can be obtained by contacting:
The Deputy Registrar Telephone: (02) 6217-4259
Residential Tenancies Tribunal (02) 6217-4275
Ground Floor, Magistrate Court Facsimile: (02) 6217-4505
4 Knowles Place Website: www.courts.act.gov.au
CANBERRA ACT 2601
For further advice regarding legal rights and obligations, parties may wish to contact:
Welfare Rights & Legal Centre Tenants Advice Service
Havelock House Havelock House
Gould Street Gould Street
TURNER ACT 2601 TURNER ACT 2601
Telephone: (02) 6247-2177 Telephone: (02) 6247-2011
Facsimile: (02) 6257-4801 (Between 9am –1pm)
For information regarding rental bonds, inquires may be directed to:
Office of Rental Bonds
Level B1, Allara House
CANBERRA ACT 2601
Telephone: (02) 6207-1178
Facsimile: (02) 6207-1181