Tenancy Advice Service ACT (Division of Legal Aid ACT)

About Us

Vision statement

Our vision is to be a leader in delivering excellent, integrated tenancy advice services to the people of ACT that responds to their needs in a caring, efficient, and professional manner.

Mission

Our mission is to assist and empower residential tenants and occupants of the ACT to build long-term independence and housing security by providing a wide-range of services.

We aim to service the needs of priority clients in the ACT community, such as those:

  • experiencing financial disadvantage;
  • children and young people under the age of 25;
  • indigenous Australians;
  • older persons over the age of 65;
  • people experiencing or at risk of family violence;
  • people residing in rural or remote areas;
  • people who are culturally and linguistically diverse; and
  • people with disabilities or mental illness.

Assistance Provided

We assist clients to understand and assert their legal rights and responsibilities under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (ACT) and to identify, address or prevent legal problems before they escalate into more significant matters.

We provide assistance to facilitate the timely resolution of matters referred to us in collaboration with ACT community legal centres, government, the private legal profession, and others to create a cohesive service that can best meet the needs of ACT tenants and occupants.

The assistance we offer takes multiple forms:

Advise We offer legal advice, assistance with other legal tasks, representation services, information, and referrals.
Support We provide support through our Walk-in services, Legal Aid clinics, referral to social services, website resources, and Community Liaison Unit.
Education We offer community legal education for residential tenants and tenant advocates.
Reform We pursue positive policy and legal reform that serves the interests of disadvantaged residential tenants.

Contact

Tenancy Advice Line

Our tenancy advice line is a free, confidential phone service that connects you to a paralegal who can offer legal advice and assistance on a range of tenancy matters.

TAS phone number: 1300 402 512
Email: TAS@legalaidact.org.au
Address: 2 Allsop Street Canberra City ACT 2601

Tenancy Advice Live Chat

For those who are unable to contact us on our phone line service, but would still like to discuss their issue, we have an online live chat service that will connect you to our staff.

https://tawk.to/tasact

Other Helpful Services

There are a wide-range of other services that can help you with your tenancy and occupancy issues. We have listed a few below:

Onelink  Onelink provides information about and connection to crisis accommodation and other support services for people who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

Supportive Tenancy Service

Supportive Tenancy Service provides outreach support to people in housing stress, or who may be at risk of homelessness, regardless of the reason for their circumstances.
Canberra Community Law Canberra Community Law provides legal advice and assistance in relation to public and community housing tenants or occupants.
Care Financial Counselling Service Care and Financial Counselling Service provides financial counselling support which may be of assistance to individuals who are struggling to pay rent or utilities

Resources

Law Handbook

The ACT Law Handbook online provides an explanation of laws in the ACT, including those related to tenancy. It functions as a quick guide to the law: what it is, how it affects you, and how you can use it. It is written by academics, lawyers and judges with the aim of making the law more accessible for ACT residents.

The Renting Book

The renting book is a resource published by the ACT Revenue Office that sets out the rights and responsibilities of tenants, occupants, property owners, and real estate agents. It can help you navigate the Residential Tenancies Act and work out how the law applies to you.

Residential Tenancies Act 1997

The Residential Tenancies Act sets out the laws governing residential tenancies in the Australian Capital Territory. The Act defines key terms, establishes all rights and obligations for tenants and lessors, and provides the remedial powers available to the courts and ACAT.

 

Frequently Asked Questions/common problems

There are some common problems and questions that we receive here at the Tenancy Advice Service. Please consult our list to see if your problem appears and read the associated factsheets as they may provide you with the information you require to solve the problem yourself. We have linked a number of factsheets , useful documents and sample letters for you to read and use.

If your problem does not appear, or you require any further assistance, please contact us.

 

Factsheets, Useful Documents and Sample Letters

Factsheets

The below files are presented in Portable Document Format, or PDF. If you are having trouble viewing them, please download a free copy of Adobe Reader by clicking the below image or call our helpline on 1800 654 314 between 8:30am and 4.30pm weekdays to arrange a physical copy.

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Get Acrobat Reader

 

Access and Privacy (PDF, 271.59 KB) - A factsheet discussing tenant privacy and lessor access to rental properties

Bond (PDF, 600.54 KB) -  A factsheet discussing the tenancy bond - what it is for, how to pay it and how to get it back

Condition Reports (PDF, 417.51 KB) - A factsheet discussing the importance of condition reports and why tenants need to complete them.

Ending a Tenancy/Breaking a Lease (PDF, 674.16 KB) - A factsheet discussing how a tenancy can be brought to an end and what to do if a tenant needs to break a lease.

Eviction (PDF, 455.7 KB) - A factsheet that provides information about evictions

Going to ACAT (PDF, 277.29 KB) - A factsheet discussing what tenants need to know if they are going to ACAT

Modifications to Property (PDF, 338.08 KB) - A factsheet discussing when rental properties an be modified by tenants.

Mould (PDF, 304.28 KB) - A factsheet about mould in rental properties.

Occupancy Agreements (PDF, 406.63 KB) - A factsheet discussing occupancy agreements

Pets (PDF, 353.05 KB) - A factsheet discussing whether you can keep a pet during your tenancy

Rent Increases (PDF, 274.05 KB) - A factseet discussing what tenants need to know when advised of a rent increase. 

Repairs and Maintenance (PDF, 323.46 KB) - A factsheet discussing who is responsible for repairs and maintenance of a rental property.

Starting a Tenancy (PDF, 354.07 KB) - A factsheet discussing what you need to think about when starting a tenancy.

Sub-letting (PDF, 272.5 KB) - A factsheet discussing sub-letting

Your Rights and Obligations as a Tenant (PDF, 402.38 KB) - A factsheet summarising your rights and obligations as a tenant

ACT Government Factsheets - the ACT Justice and Community Safety Directorate provides several of its own factsheets that are regularly updated and explain major changes in the Residential Tenancies Act.

Useful Documents

Condition of Premises Report (PDF, 232.89 KB) - Condition reports are used as evidence in bond disputes. This 5-page condition report can be used in a tenancy or occupancy. It is available free from www.revenue.act.gov.au

Standard residential tenancy terms - Schedule 1 (PDF, 279.18 KB) - Standard residential tenancy terms - Schedule 1

Standard Tenancy Agreement 2019 (PDF, 240.54 KB) - Standard Tenancy Agreement

Sample Letters

Sample letters are in Word format so you can edit and use them for your own situation

Sample letters - Access for Purchaser (DOCX, 14.18 KB)

Sample letters - Bond Dispute (DOC, 26 KB)

Sample letters - Break lease no grounds (DOC, 39 KB)

Sample letters - Challenging Notice to Vacate in a fixed term tenancy (DOCX, 14.49 KB)

Sample letters - Challenging Notice to Vacate periodic tenancy (DOCX, 16.66 KB)

Sample letters - Change to Rent Payment Method (DOC, 27 KB)

Sample Letters - Lodgement of Bond (DOCX, 12.92 KB)

Sample letters - Notice of Intention to Vacate (DOCX, 11.98 KB)

Sample letters - Notice to Remedy Breach (DOC, 23 KB)

Sample letters - Outstanding Rent (1) (DOC, 24 KB)

Sample letters - Outstanding rent (2) (DOCX, 12.88 KB)

Sample letters - Rent Increase (DOC, 26.5 KB)

Sample letters - Repairs (DOC, 26 KB)

Sample letters - Termination of periodic tenancy (DOCX, 12.24 KB)

Sample letters - Unwanted Access (DOCX, 15.12 KB)

I am going to ACAT to solve a problem – what should I know?

If you are going to ACAT read our facsheet below.

You will also find useful information on ACAT's website at www.acat.act.gov.au

Factsheet - Going to ACAT

My landlord keeps coming into my house – are they allowed to do that?

There are strict regulations concerning when your landlord or property manager may enter your home and the notice requirements they must comply with.

Sample letters relating to access

 

My landlord is trying to evict me – what can I do?

If your landlord is trying to evict you, it is important you understand to understand your rights and obligations.

Sample letters

My lease is about to end – what should I know?

Depending on whether you intend to leave the property, or you want to renew your lease, there are a number of different steps you can take.

Sample letters

 

What should I know when I’m looking for somewhere to rent?

Starting a new lease is a big commitment, so it’s important to understand how it works.

I have fallen behind on my rent – what do I do?

If you are having problems paying your rent, there are steps you can take to prevent termination of your lease.

If you cannot make a rental payment, contact the lessor/agent as soon as possible and let them know you will be making the payment.

If you aren’t able to pay off the arrears in one payment, contact the lessor/agent to explain the situation. You may be able to reach an agreement to pay off the amount over time, for example you could offer to pay an extra amount per week. It is very helpful if you can make a written offer and get any response in writing. This will be useful even if the offer is not accepted, as the letter can be used as evidence that you have tried to fix the problem if action is taken by the lessor in ACAT. 

Being behind in your rent is a breach of your tenancy agreement. This can result in eviction. The lessor cannot evict you without an order from ACAT. See our factsheet on eviction for more information.

Eviction factsheet

Sample letters

I have a problem with my residence and I need my landlord to do something.

If you are having issues with your home that require repair, such as plumbing, heating, mould, or other problems, your landlord may be required to deal with it, and do so within a set time frame.

Sample letters

My landlord wants to raise my rent

There are strict rules about when your landlord can raise your rent; by how much they can raise your rent; and how they must provide notice of a rent increase.

Sample letters

I want to move out before the end of my lease – what do I do?

If you have signed a lease for a fixed term and you intend to move out before the term is complete, that is called breaking the lease.

Sample letters

Publications

Legal Aid ACT have a number of publications available online or from any of our offices.

The below files are presented in Portable Document Format, or PDF. If you are having trouble viewing them, please download a free copy of Adobe Reader by clicking the below image or call our helpline on 1800 654 314 between 8:30am and 5pm weekdays to arrange a physical copy.

getreader.png
Get Acrobat Reader

Access and Privacy (pdf, 345.46 KB) - A factsheet discussing tenant privacy and lessor access to rental properties.

ACT Tenancy Law Basics (pdf, 242.36 KB) - A factsheet explaining some tenancy law basics in the ACT.

Bond (pdf, 344.82 KB) -  A factsheet discussing the tenancy bond - what it is for, how to pay it and how to get it back

Condition of Premises Report (pdf, 232.89 KB) - Condition reports are used as evidence in bond disputes. This 5-page condition report can be used in a tenancy or occupancy. It is available free from www.revenue.act.gov.au

Condition Reports (pdf, 264.48 KB) - A factsheet discussing the importance of condition reports and why tenants need to complete them.

Ending a Tenancy (pdf, 339.54 KB) - A factsheet discussing how a tenancy can be brought to an end and what to do if a tenant needs to break a lease.

Eviction (pdf, 252.12 KB) - A factsheet that provides information about evictions

Going to ACAT (pdf, 139.69 KB) - A factsheet discussing what tenants need to know if they are going to ACAT

Maintenance and Repairs (pdf, 160.61 KB) - A factsheet discussing who is responsible for repairs and maintenance of a rental property.

Modifications to Property (pdf, 213.81 KB) - A factsheet discussing when rental properties an be modified by tenants.

Mould (pdf, 134.41 KB) - A factsheet about mould in rental properties.

Occupancy Agreements (pdf, 242.18 KB) - A factsheet discussing occupancy agreements

Pets (pdf, 156.35 KB) - A factsheet discussing whether you can keep a pet during your tenancy

Rent Increases (pdf, 238.92 KB) - A factseet discussing what tenants need to know when advised of a rent increase. 

Standard residential tenancy terms - Schedule 1 (pdf, 279.18 KB) - Standard residential tenancy terms - Schedule 1

Standard Tenancy Agreement 2019 (pdf, 240.54 KB) - Standard Tenancy Agreement

Starting a Tenancy (pdf, 233.6 KB) - A factsheet discussing what you need to think about when starting a tenancy.

Sub-letting (pdf, 135.9 KB) - A factsheet discussing sub-letting

Tenancy and COVID-19 (pdf, 333.72 KB) - A factsheet on your rights as a tenant during COVID-19.

Your Rights and Obligations as a Tenant (pdf, 237.2 KB) - A factsheet summarising your rights and obligations as a tenant