Australia: New Residential Tenancies Act: Important Changes to Consider


The Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (Act), recently passed in the NSW parliament represents the first fundamental overhaul of residential tenancy law in New South Wales for over 20 years and follows detailed consultation with industry groups. It contains changes to existing tenancy law that will affect both landlords and tenants.

Developers and land owners who are currently "holding" potential development sites with a residential component or renting completed units in a slow market, should consider the impact of the amendments on these tenancies and their sales and/or development timetables.


The Minister for Fair Trading has stated that the aim of the Act was to modernise and reform the existing tenancy laws and has indicated that the new laws are a response in part to the increased prevalence of shared households and lifetime tenants.

Key Aspects

Some of the key aspects of the Act are:

Rent and other payments

Under section 34, a landlord must accept payment of unpaid rent by a tenant if the landlord has given a termination notice on the ground of failure to pay rent and the tenant has not vacated the residential premises. The proposal is designed to guarantee continuation of a tenancy where a tenant has fallen behind in the payment of rent and subsequently pays the unpaid rent or complies with an agreed repayment plan. The Minister has stated that this is designed to help genuine tenants who encounter temporary financial difficulties.

Under section 39, a tenant must pay the water usage charges for the premises, but only if (amongst other conditions) the premises contain water efficiency measures prescribed by the regulations. There is a 12 month transitional period for existing landlords to have any works carried out.

Proposed Sale of residential premises

Section 53 provides that a landlord must give the tenant written notice of the landlord's intention to sell premises not later than 14 days before the premises are first made available for inspection by prospective purchasers.

Under section 86 a landlord may give a termination notice (except in respect of a date that is before the expiry of a fixed term agreement) on the ground that the landlord has entered into a contract for the sale of the premises under which the landlord is required to give vacant possession. The termination notice must specify a termination date that is not earlier than 30 days after the day on which the notice is given.

Alterations and additions to residential premises

Section 66 provides that a landlord must not unreasonably withhold consent to a fixture, or to an alteration, addition or renovation that is of a minor nature. If the landlord fails to consent, the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal is then, if requested by the tenant, able to make an order that the tenant may install a fixture or make a renovation, alteration or addition to the premises. In determining whether a landlord's failure to consent is reasonable, consideration is given (but is not limited to) the following factors:

  • if the work involves structural changes
  • if the work involves work that would not be reasonably capable of rectification, repair or removal
  • if the work involves internal or external painting of the residential premises
  • if the work is prohibited under any other law, or
  • if the work is not consistent with the nature of the property.

Changes of tenant and landlord

Under section 75, the landlord may withhold consent to a transfer or subletting relating to the whole tenancy (in its absolute discretion), but must not unreasonably withhold consent to a transfer of a tenancy or subletting of the premises if the transfer results only in one or more tenants in addition to an original tenant under the agreement or the partial subletting of the premises.

The landlord is only allowed to withhold consent if it has a reasonable objection. A reasonable objection would be:

  • the number of proposed occupants is more than permitted under the residential tenancy agreement
  • the proposed tenant or subtenant is listed on a residential tenancy database in accordance with the Act, or
  • the landlord is reasonably of the opinion that the transfer or subletting will result in residential premises being overcrowded.

In her speech, the Minister indicated the rationale for this change, being that the government does not believe that, with shared households increasing, it is appropriate that landlords have an absolute and unchallengeable right to decide who their tenants can live with.

Termination by landlord

Under section 85, the notice period for the landlord to give a termination notice of a periodic agreement has been increased from 60 days to 90 days after the notice is given.

Should a landlord give a tenant a termination notice on the grounds that the tenant has failed to pay rent, the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal must not make a termination order (provided the tenant has not frequently failed to pay rent owing) if the tenant pays all the rent owing or enters into and fully complies with a repayment plan agreed with the landlord.

Termination by tenant

Under section 97, a tenant may now terminate a periodic tenancy on 21 days' notice. Under section 100 of the Act, a tenant may give a termination notice for a fixed term agreement on any of the following grounds:

  • that the tenant has been offered, and accepted, accommodation in social housing premises
  • that the tenant has accepted a place in an aged care facility or requires care in such a facility
  • that the landlord has notified the tenant of the landlord's intention to sell the premises and did not disclose the proposed sale before entering into the residential tenancy agreement, and
  • that a co tenant or occupant or former co tenant or occupant is prohibited by a final apprehended violence order from having access to the premises.

Under section 104 the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal may on application by a tenant, make a termination order for a fixed term agreement if it is satisfied that the tenant would, in the special circumstances of the case, suffer undue hardship if the residential tenancy agreement were not terminated.

Tenancy database information

Under section 212, a landlord or agent of a landlord must not list personal information about a person on a residential tenancy database unless:

  • the person was named as a tenant in a residential tenancy agreement that was terminated or the person's co tenancy was terminated
  • the person breached the agreement
  • because of the breach the person owes the landlord an amount that is more than the rental bond for the agreement or the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal has made a termination order, and
  • the personal information identifies the nature of the breach and is accurate, complete and unambiguous.

Contracting out of the Act is prohibited and nothing in the legislation limits the operation of the Contracts Review Act 1980.


While there has been conjecture that the bill (as can be seen from the provisions above) is "pro tenant", according to the Minister for Fair Trading, there are also provisions that will assist landlords including:

  • Landlords will be able to serve eviction notices directly to the tenant's letterbox and apply to the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal for a hearing at the same time as serving the notice. The Tribunal is given broader powers to overlook minor errors in the content or service of notices.
  • The discretion of the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal has been removed in making it certain that the Tribunal must grant an eviction order if the lease has expired and proper notice has been given.
  • Landlords will no longer have to put an advertisement in a newspaper about unclaimed goods or pay to have them moved and stored for 30 days, extra grounds for access to rented premises have been added and the time for landlords and agents to lodge a tenancy bond has been extended.
  • Tenants will only be able to contest errors in rent increase notices from the past 12 months.


Since the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 contains a number of fundamental changes to the current legislation, both landlords and tenants should be aware of these changes in the:

  • marketing the sale of completed residential units for investment purposes, and
  • entering into any new residential tenancy agreement in New South Wales.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Mondaq Advice Centre (MACs)
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.