Who is responsible for ensuring my antenna can receive digital TV?

From 5 June 2012, areas of southern and central NSW, ACT and MIA have switched from analog TV to digital TV. This means that free-to-air TV signals are now broadcast in digital-only.

For information specific to ACT area you can find the “Are you ready for digital TV guide” here.

Much of the information in this FAQ was taken from this document, and the website has numerous fact sheets and guides for landlords and property managers on digital TV.

What is digital TV?

The word ‘digital’ simply refers to the way in which TV signals are broadcast (sent) and received by TVs in homes around Australia. In some parts of Australia, TV is broadcast in both digital and analog. However, the analog signals are gradually being phased out across the country between 2010 and 2013, and Australian TV will become digital-only.

If you already have an antenna

Most antennas should work after the analog TV signals are switched off but some may require an upgrade or adjustments. If you are not sure why you are not getting good reception you can contact an Endorsed Antenna Installer to advise you on this issue (see below for more information).

If it is necessary to upgrade the antenna systems in private rental properties you should discuss this with your landlord or property manager.  If your property was provided with an antenna then your landlord is obliged to maintain it in a reasonable state of repair, as stated in clause 55 of the Standard Residential Tenancy Terms. This obligation may require them to upgrade your antenna receive digital TV signals. If your landlord refuses to upgrade your antenna you can call the Tenants Advice Service on 6247 2011 for further information and advice on what to do.

If you live in an apartment building

Buildings such as apartments and units (known as multi-dwelling units or MDUs) and groups of townhouses, often use a shared antenna system, also known as a master antenna TV (MATV).

If you live in this type of building, the shared system may need to be upgraded, or may have to be installed for the first time. In most cases the modifications and upgrades required will be minimal. It may not be necessary to replace the whole antenna system.

You should speak to your landlord about having the system upgraded or replaced – and they will have to raise the issue with the owners corporation or Body Corporate.  If your landlord or the Body Corporate refuses to upgrade your antenna you can call the Tenants Advice Service on 6247 2011 for further information and advice on what to do.

If your property doesn’t have an antenna at all

If your property doesn’t have an antenna but you would like one, you can request that your landlord install one.  You may also want to consider purchasing internal antennas or “bunny ears” that may improve the reception for your television.  Unfortunately if you landlord refuses to install an antenna there is not a lot you can do – they are not required by legislation to install one.

However, if there was a TV connection outlet at your property when you started living there, which led you to believe there was adequate TV reception, you may be able to argue that you were entitled to assume that there was television reception. You can call the Tenant Advice Line on 6247 2011 to discuss if you think this might be your situation.

If you want to install an antenna

You can install an antenna yourself but you must get written consent from the landlord as stated in clause 67 of the SRTT.  Your landlord cannot unreasonably withhold consent (clause 68). You should make a written agreement about the installation of an antenna to the house, make it very clear about whether it will be removed at the end of the tenancy or not. Be aware that you may be liable for damage caused to the house by the removal of an antenna and that if you leave the fixtures or fittings at the house when you leave, they become the landlord’s property. 

Helping your landlord to get digital ready…

Brochures and information sheets

There are brochures available from the Australian Government Digital Ready website that encourage landlords to make sure their properties are ready for digital TV. You can order free copies of the brochure by calling the Digital Ready Information Line on 1800 20 10 13. There is also an information sheet for landlords and property managers available to download under the brochures and info sheets page here.

Tax deductions for landlords

It used to be the case that landlords could not claim tax deductions on improvements to properties – including installation of new antennas.  However as part of the Australian Government’s efforts to get properties “Digital ready” landlords may be able to claim a tax deduction for part or all of the cost of the purchase or upgrade of antenna equipment for your rental property. Your landlord can find out if they are eligible by contacting the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), or download the ATO “Rental Properties” guide here.

Do you need assistance with the switch over?

Endorsed Antenna Installers

As part of assisting people to make their homes digital ready, Endorsed Antenna Installers have been approved by the Australian Government to ensure consumers have access to knowledgeable and experienced antenna installers, to help them get ready for digital TV. An Endorsed Antenna Installer can advise on ways of improving reception, even in areas with marginal signal coverage.  More information can be found here.


mySwitch is an easy-to-use, interactive web-based tool designed to provide the information you need to prepare for switchover in your area.  It includes tips on what to do about poor reception.

Enter your full address into the mySwitch tool to retrieve specific information surrounding the switch off of analog TV signals in your area. If you do not have internet access, you can call the Digital Ready Information Line on 1800 20 10 13.

Digital switchover liaison officers

Digital switchover liaison officers are available in switchover areas during the months leading up to switchover. The officers work across the switchover region with local councils and community organisations, and they may also host or participate in local events or give presentations to local groups on how to switchover to digital television. 

The liaison officers will work to help groups of residents who may find it more difficult to switch to digital TV by themselves, such as those who are less mobile, or who find technology challenging. However, it is not part of the officer’s role to install television equipment. They will provide information on the switchover process and inform residents about other government digital TV initiatives.If you are on a government pension.

You can contact your nearest Digital Switchover Liaison Officer through either of the following options: Email: switchover@dbcde.gov.au Phone: 1800 20 10 13 and ask for the Digital Switchover Liaison Officer nearest to you.

Household Assistance Scheme

The Household Assistance Scheme has been established to help eligible people switch to digital TV free-of-charge. If you’re eligible, you will receive a letter from Centrelink inviting you to apply for the scheme. More information can be found here or call Centrelink on 1800 556 443.

Reviewed: 4/12/13

Where can I get help with paying my utilities (gas, water, electricity) bills?

Contacting your utilities company

If you are having trouble paying your utilities bills, the first step is to call your utilities provider and speak to them about the available options for paying your bills. You may be able to set up a payment plan or participate in their internal hardship program. The major providers in the ACT are ACTEWAGL, Origin and Energy Australia.

You can access the ActewAGL website here. Or call 131 245.

You can access the Energy Australia website here. Or call 133 466 (Monday – Friday, 8.30am – 4.30pm AEST).

You can access the Origin website here. Or call 13 24 61.

If you are not able to reach a realistic agreement with the utility provider directly, you can make an application to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal – Energy and Water Division. More information on doing that can be found here.

A brochure about Hardship Applications at ACAT is available here.   ACAT also has a list of other Resources inclduing:

  • hardship assistance
  • regaulators

General complaints about utilities

From the ACAT website:

ACAT functions as the energy and water ombudsman for the ACT, and deals with complaints relating to utilities.

Before you contact us, you must first raise your issue with your utility company.

When contacting your utility company, write down details of the conversation (including the name of the person you spoke to, time of the call and reference number). You should tell the utility company what the problem is and how you want it fixed.

If this does not resolve your issue:

        • ask to speak with a senior officer, manager, or be referred to the utility company’s complaints resolution team
        • put your complaint in writing, either by email or mail, so that the utility has a detailed record of your complaint that you can both refer to later.

If you are not able to resolve your complaint with the utility, you can refer your complaint to ACAT.

The ACAT website has a comprehensive amount of information about the process for complaints.

Note that the ACAT cannot consider complaints against telecommunications utilities such as Telstra, Optus or Transact. These complaints should be directed to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman on 1800 062 058.

Energy efficiency information, referrals and Resources

There are a number of programs in the ACT designed to provide people with information and education about energy efficiency. Some of these programs provide home energy audits which may assist you to discover ways you can save energy and keep your utilities bills down.

Home Energy Assessment Program

The ST Vincent de Paul Outreach Program provides assistance to low income households in the ACT to reduce their energy and water bills.  The Home Energy Assessment program assists low income households with education and support to reduce their energy bills.  An Energy Efficiency Outreach Officer visits people in their homes and provides a free assessment to determine the best ways to reduce their energy bills and make their household environment more comfortable. This can include help to seal gaps which allow heat to escape from the home, providing heated throw blankets to use instead of heaters, or encouraging the use of clotheslines or indoor clothes drying racks as opposed to dryers. Where appropriate, the program has also assisted in the replacement of old fridges with newer, more efficient models.  For more information – info@svdp-cg.org.au, or Ph – 6234 7408


ACTSmart is a one-stop-shop for ACT Government rebates and assistance that will help you save energy and water, reduce waste and cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Go to the wesbite, email – actsmart@act.gov.au or ph – 13 22 81

Reviewed: 28/6/19

What is rent in advance?

In most tenancies, when you sign your agreement you will be required to pay bond and rent in advance.

Under the standard tenancy terms the maximum of rent in advance that can be required is one month.  The maximum bond is the equivalent of 4 weeks rent (for more information about bond see our Bond factsheet

This can work in two ways:

  • your tenancy begins on 2 March and you pay 4 weeks rent on that day. Your agreement says rent is to be paid fortnightly.

Having paid 2 fortnights in advance, you might not expect to pay rent again until 30 March; however your agreement may say that the next payment is due on 16 March to keep your rent account always a clear fortnight in advance. This is possible as long as you are not required to pay more than 2 weeks rent each payment (ie you are never more than 1 month in advance)

  • Your tenancy begins on 2 March and you pay a month’s rent on that day (if you have made your payment prior to this rent applies from when the tenancy starts).  Your agreement says rent is to be paid monthly.

Having paid a month in advance you cannot be asked to pay another month’s rent until 2 April because to do otherwise would be putting you more than 1 month in advance.

It is important to take rent in advance into account when you give notice to end your tenancy or you may find you have paid too much and you will then have to organise repayment.

For information on how rent payments are calculated see our FAQ    

For information about rent arrears see our Factsheet

Call the Tenants’ Advice Service if you need advice

Reviewed:  4/8/2015

What happens if I can’t go to the conference or hearing at the Tribunal?

There are a number of things you can do if you cannot attend the Tribunal. 

If you cannot be there in person but you are available at the specified time, you can request a teleconference. This is where one or both parties will be called by the Tribunal at an appointed time and will be on speaker phone – in a private room. Be aware that your request for a teleconference will depend on the reasons you need one, and they are not granted automatically. You should request a teleconference in writing, addressed to the Registrar of the Tribunal. You can find contact details for the Tribunal here.

You can have somebody else represent you at the Tribunal, such as a friend or family member.

You need to fill out a form called “Power of Attorney for Representation of an Individual”, from the Tribunal website here

Make sure you provide your representative with the relevant facts, evidence and arguments to make.

It may help to provide these in writing.

For a conference, tell them what you would agree to settle for.

If possible, you should try to be available by telephone in case the Tribunal needs to contact you.

If the Registrar or Tribunal Member asks a question and your representative doesn’t know the answer and you cannot be contacted, the Tribunal is likely to accept the landlord or agent’s version of events.

If you cannot attend the Tribunal and/or are not available at the specified time then you must carefully follow the procedure set out for requesting an adjournment (rescheduling). Be aware that ACAT have said

that adjournments will be granted sparingly so you cannot be assured of a new time being arranged.

Direction 19 of the ACAT Directions (special rules about how ACAT operates) sets out the ACAT’s approach to requests for adjournments. Requests for the adjournment of a conference will be considered with reference to:

  • the reasons for the request and the attitude of each other party to the application to the request for an adjournment;
  • any serious disadvantage the requesting party (or where relevant, the public), may suffer if the adjournment is not granted;
  • any prejudice to each other party (or where relevant, to the public),
  • if the adjournment is granted; the appropriateness of an order requiring the requesting party to pay costs if an adjournment is granted;
  • and any other relevant matter.

Any request for a change to a date for a conference or variation of directions hearing can be made by letter or email and MUST address ALL of the points above. 

You MUST ensure that you send a copy to the other party (either via letter or by copying them in on an email).  If you don’t do this ACAT will not do it for you, and will not consider your request until this has been done.  

If the request is received by telephone or in person, the same questions will be asked of you, and the Registry staff will write your answers down. If you go to the ACAT counter in person you should ask for an Application for Interim or Other Orders or write the information down on ordinary notepaper – and sign it.

Remember: that the existing dates/orders/directions etc remain in place and are not in any way affected by your request until a decision is made.

The matter will then be referred to a Registrar, Member or President for decision. Depending on the urgency of the request, and the availability of the deciding officer this should be done as soon as possible. The officer making the decision may need to speak to both parties before making a decision. If you are not happy with the decision you can raise the issue with the Registrar or make a formal complaint to the General President of the ACAT.

This process does not affect a request signed and submitted jointly by the parties. However, the ultimate decision is that of the ACAT, and that ACAT will not necessarily accept a procedural outcome arranged between the parties.

If you don’t attend a conference or hearing without notifying the ACAT

The ACAT will endeavour to take all reasonable practical steps to contact the parties required to appear before the ACAT. If a party fails to attend then the ACAT may:

  • order the application be considered at another time, or
  • make an order that something else be done before the application continues (for example that the applicant makes attempts to find or notify the respondent), or
  • give an adjournment, or
  • proceed with the hearing in the absence of the party, or
  • dismiss the application if the party is the applicant, or
  • remove the party from the application if they are not the applicant or respondent
If you have failed to attend a conference or hearing and are worried about what will happen next – you can contact the Tenants Advice Service for more information.

Reviewed: 3/12/13

Washers – who has to change them?

The Standard Residential Tenancy Terms (SRTT)  set out responsibilities to look after the property.

Your responsibility – Clause 63 states that you should take reasonable care of the property, keep it reasonably clean with regards to the condition of the property at the time you started to live there, and the normal every day use of the property. You are responsible for the normal every day things a tenant would do like changing a light bulb and you must ensure that you don’t negligently or intentionally damage the property.

You may find that your landlord or the reals estate agent say you have to replace washers in line with this clause, however they are overlooking the landlord’s responsibility.

The landlord’s responsibility – Clauses 54 and 55 of the SRTT state that the landlord also has an obligation to provide the property in a reasonable state at the start of your tenancy, as well as maintain the property in a reasonable state of repair throughout the time that you live there.

Essentially replacing the washers is the responsibility of the landlord for several reasons:

  • Replacing washers falls under the landlord’s general obligation to maintain the property;
  • Additionally it is not reasonable for you as a tenant to replace the washers as they often cannot be installed without specialist equipment and turning off the water supply to the building;
  • It is your responsibility to not damage the premises and is you are not a trained plumber you are taking a risk that you might cause damage, this is an unreasonable risk for a tenant to take;
  • Finally, there is no way to determine when or how washers will wear out and you are not responsible to repair damage which has not been negligently or intentionally caused by you.

However the issue is not clear cut, there have been some cases from different Tribunals across the country will say it is the responsibility of the landlord, or the tenant or a combination of the two. It can come down to an individual Tribunal member’s interpretation of the issue.

The outcome in your case will depend on how much effort you want to put into negotiating the issue with your agent/landlord.

You can use the above points in negotiations, ultimately if you refuse to do the work either they will have to make an application to the Tribunal for an order that you do so, or they could claim you are breach your responsibility under the SRTT; or you could make an application for an order that they do the work.

For further information, read our factsheet on repairs or call the Tenants’ Advice Service. You can also find a sample letter to agents/landlords which addresses repairs issues here.

Reviewed: 4/2/2019

Visitors – do I have to tell my landlord or agent when I have someone to stay?

It depends whether the person staying is a guest or a sub-tenant.  It is all about what rights you are seeking to give that person.

Having guests stay over is part of your right to quiet enjoyment and exclusive possession of the property under standard residential tenancy terms 52 and 53.  However, under clause 53, your right to exclusive possession can be limited if you agree in writing to limit it.  Even so, the Tribunal has indicated that if your lease limits the total number of residents, this restriction may need to be endorsed by the tribunal to be enforceable, particularly if it is affecting other rights and even perhaps discriminating against you. See our FAQ:  Extra terms and standard leases – what terms are enforceable?

Your right to quiet enjoyment should also include a right to live with your spouse, de facto, or close family member.  This includes children and having a baby.  Your right to privacy means that you shouldn’t have to tell your landlord or agent every time you start a new relationship or someone stays over.  If you are having a guest to stay, there is no requirement to tell the landlord or agent, or ask for permission.

However, you do need written permission from your landlord or agent if you want to have a sub-tenant live with you (clause 72).  If you don’t have written permission for a sub-tenant to be there, you are in breach of your lease and the landlord could issue you with a notice to remedy and then apply to the Tribunal for an order that the person move out, or they could serve a notice to vacate, if you didn’t vacate they could make an application to the Tribunal for an order terminating the tenancy (the Tribunal may order termination or decide this does not warrant termination and order that the person move out.

When does a guest become a sub-tenant?

A guest usually becomes a sub-tenant or occupant when they pay rent or contribute money, particularly if they pay a set amount on a regular basis.  They are also more likely to be a sub-tenant if the premises are their only residence, if they have a key, direct their mail to your address, help care for the property, or arrange to stay for a long time.

Another test is whether you intended to create a legal relationship.  If the visitor thinks they have a right to stay, and you think the visitor has to pay you rent, they are probably a sub-tenant.

Reviewed: 25/1/2019

Retaliatory eviction – do I have to move out?

Sometimes tenants who are in a dispute with the landlord may find themselves being served with a notice to vacate, requiring them to leave the property. This might happen, for example, where a tenant takes steps to negotiate a lower rent increase than the landlord is requesting, or tells the landlord that they have received legal advice, or is successful in getting an order from the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT) for repairs to be done.

If you think this is what has happened to you it may be what is called a “retaliatory eviction” and you cannot be evicted in those circumstances alone.

If ACAT believes that the eviction is retaliatory, they cannot order that the tenancy be terminated.  Section 57 of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (ACT) states that if you can show that you took reasonable steps to enforce your rights, and the landlord can’t show that they weren’t motivated by that to apply for termination, the Tribunal must not order termination.

For example, if you can show that you tried to negotiate a lower rent increase, and then the landlord issued you a notice to vacate and sought to evict you, the landlord has to show that they weren’t motivated to evict you because of that.  If the landlord can’t show that, the tribunal cannot order termination.

If you aren’t sure if your landlord is trying to evict you in retaliation for you taking steps to assert your legal rights then you can call the Tenants Advice Service for more information and specific advice.

Reviewed: 3/12/13

Rent Cards (eg RE Connect) – can I be forced to use them?

Real Estate Agency method of payment issue

The Tenants’ Advice Service has from time to time received calls about issues tenants face regarding the method they use to pay their rent. In the past this occurred when a Canberra real estate agent attempted to force tenants in properties they manage to adopt a specific method of paying the rent. While this practice has been around for some time, occasionally it affects a large number of tenants, particularly if there is a change within an agency (such as a merger or change in management).

These particular arrangements require tenants to pay rent to a third party company. That company accepts rent payments from the tenant on the real estate agent’s behalf, and the tenant pays a monthly fee to the company. This has sometimes been presented as the only option by which rent can be paid. Rather than having the option of negotiating the preferred method of payment at the commencement of or during the tenancy, the tenant is told they are locked into one method only.

There is nothing wrong with this type of arrangement existing as an optional payment method. As long as it is made clear to existing and prospective tenants that this method of payment is simply one they can choose to adopt if they wish to, then no problem – some tenants may prefer to use this type of payment method. However, in the way it has been put forward, this practice may be unlawful in a number of different ways.

For information on some potential problems with paying rent via direct debit, as well as other payment options including third party payments click here.

If you do decide to use this method make sure your direct debits cease when you leave the tenancy

How is the practice unlawful?

Trust Accounts

The agency in question had said that they would be closing the bank account into which tenants pay rent by direct deposit, so payment by direct deposit would no longer be possible. This is disingenuous at best and illegal at worst. The Agents Act 2003 (ACT) requires: 1) That all money received by an agent on behalf of the principal be held in trust; and 2) That agents maintain a Trust Account at a bank in the Territory. As no real estate agent could close their Trust Account without breaching the Agents Act, it is possible that these real estate agents are deliberately misinforming tenants in order to make it appear that they have no choice but to adopt the new payment method.

The Residential Tenancies Act

For all tenants, section 15(1) of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 says that a lessor (or their agent) may not require or accept anything but rent or a bond in consideration for granting a lease. Arguably the fact that the tenant is required to enter into a contract with a third party breaches this section.  Note – this argument has not been tested in the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Australian Consumer Law

It is also possible that effectively forcing tenants to sign a contract with a third party constitutes a breach of the Competition and Consumer ACT 2010. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the ACT Office of Regulatory Services (Fair Trading) both investigate breaches of the ACL.  You can contact the ACCC on 1300 302 502 and the ACT OFT on 6207 3000.

For current tenants

For people who have ongoing tenancy agreements, any attempt by a real estate agent to force a change to the established payment method will be unlawful.

Clause 26 of the Standard Residential Tenancy Terms indicates that the method of rent payment may be changed if the parties agree to do so. Without such agreement the change cannot take place – it is a basic principle of contract law that one party has no power to unilaterally change a term of a contract that is ongoing.

The established method of rent payment will either be set out in the tenancy agreement, or if not, it can be inferred from the conduct of the parties (for example, if you have been paying your rent via internet transfer for six months and these payments have always been accepted, then that is clearly the established method of payment).

 HOWEVER: If you are an ongoing tenant in this situation, you need to carefully think through what you are going to do.

If the real estate agent physically prevents you from paying rent via the established method (for example, by closing a bank account) and you refuse to use a different means, then your rent will fall into arrears. This would allow the agent to serve you with a Notice to Remedy, a Notice to Vacate, and then apply to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal for a Termination and Possession Order.

While it may be very unlikely that the Tribunal would order your eviction once you explain the circumstances, it is certainly possible. To reduce the chances of the Tribunal Member ordering termination, evidence that you have the funds to cover all of the arrears (e.g. a bank statement) would be helpful, as would copies of correspondence from you to the agent where you point out that while you want to pay your rent as required, their breach of the agreement prevents you from doing so.

The alternative to this would be to apply to the Tribunal as soon as the real estate agent prevents you from paying rent by the established method. You could apply for an Order that would force the agent to comply with the agreement – this is called an Order of ‘Performance’ (Section 83(b) of the Act gives the Tribunal the power to make this kind of Order). The advantage of this tactic is that it may resolve the situation before it reaches the point where you risk eviction.

You can use our sample letter Change to Rent Payment Method as a guide for responding to your agent.

Reviewed: 3/12/13

Posting clauses – what are they and when do they apply?

When signing onto a lease both the landlord and tenant can agree to have an additional term –  ‘fair clause for posted people’ included in the lease (section 8(2)(1)).

This is a reciprocal arrangement whereby either the landlord or tenant can give at least 8 weeks’ written notice for the tenancy to be terminated during a fixed term due to the tenant being posted elsewhere in the course of employment or the landlord being posted back to the ACT in the course of employment.

This is a very specific situation. It only covers posting in current, ongoing employment i.e. a party cannot simply end the tenancy because they have found other work in another city. Section 8(2)(1)(2) states that the notice must be accompanied by evidence of the posting (for example, a letter from the employer confirming the details of the posting.

The tenancy ends 8 weeks after the day the notice is received, or if a later date is stated in the notice – on the stated date.

Since this is not a common situation, if you need further information please give our advice line a call: 6247 2011.

Reviewed: 12/2018

Pets – are they allowed?

RTA Changes regarding pets February 2019

On 1 November 2018 the ACT Government tabled a Bill (the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill 2018(No 2)) that introduced some significant changes to all tenancies in the ACT relating to pets, rent increases, tenants making modifications and break lease fees.   The Bill was debated and passed on 21 February 2019.

We have not published details because the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2019 will not commence until 4 March 2020.   All of our relevant information and materials will be updated and available just prior to the changes commencing.  If you would like to see what the changes are they are detailed in S71AE Process for tenants seeking consent – animals and S71AF Lessor to apply to ACAT for refusal – animals.

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Until the changes come into effect the law regarding pets remains as below:

The first and most important thing to remember is that there is NOTHING in the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 that restricts a tenant’s ability to keep a pet.* The word ‘pet’ doesn’t appear once in any of the 136 sections in the body of the Act, or in any of the 100 clauses in Schedule 1 that make up the Standard Residential Tenancy Terms. Keeping a pet or pets is ordinarily not a breach of the agreement and therefore not an issue.

Note: while the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 does not mention pets, there is other legislation that regulates the keeping of pets in the ACT. These are: the Dog Control Act 1975; the Animal Nuisance Control Act 1975, and the Animal Diseases Act 1993. While it is beyond the scope of this website to explain how these Acts work, you can find them all at www.legislation.act.gov.au

Additional terms

However, it is possible to add additional terms to a tenancy agreement, so a lessor could add a clause that says ‘no pets are allowed’, or that imposes a condition or limitation on a tenant’s ability to keep a pet (e.g. that the pet must be kept outdoors). Keep in mind though, that any clause that is inconsistent with the Standard Terms must be agreed on and signed by both lessor and tenant and then submitted for endorsement by the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

The Tribunal has considered the issue of whether a tenancy agreement can include a clause preventing a tenant from keeping a pet and has decided that it can and that such a clause is not inconsistent with the Standard Terms and therefore does not need to be endorsed by the Tribunal in order to be valid.

So:  If your tenancy agreement contains a clause preventing you from having a pet, breaching it would be a breach of the agreement.  The landlord can issue you a Notice to Remedy.  This means that you have to remedy the breach (i.e., find somewhere else for the animal to live) within 2 weeks.  If you still have the pet after 2 weeks, the landlord can amen an application to the Tribunal for an order that you remove the pet.   The landlord may even issue a 2 week Notice to Vacate on the basis that you did not remedy the breach.  If you did not move out and the landlord made an application to the Tribunal for an order terminating the tenancy it is debatable whether the Tribunal would determine that this was a fundamental breach of the agreement and justify termination, it is more likely that they would order that the breach be remedied, ie the pet removed.   See Tenancy Factsheet: Eviction in the ACT for more information.

Tenancy induced by ‘false or misleading statement’

Another potential hurdle is in section 52 of the Act, which reads:

On application by a lessor, the Tribunal may make a termination and possession order if satisfied that the residential tenancies agreement was induced by a false or misleading statement of the tenant.

It is not uncommon for lessors, and very common for real estate agents, to ask prospective tenants whether or not they have a pet, how many pets, etc before a tenancy is offered. In the case of agents, these questions are frequently contained in the application form. If such a question is asked and the tenant answers it with a false or misleading statement (e.g. ‘I don’t keep any pets’), and a tenancy is then entered into, then it is possible that the lessor could at some later stage argue that the tenancy was ‘induced’ by the false/misleading statement, and seek termination under section 52.

For the Tribunal to order the termination, the breach needs to be serious enough to ‘justify’ it (section 48). It is possible that the Tribunal would decide that the breach is sufficiently serious, and order the termination. It is perhaps more likely however, that the Tribunal would order that the tenant remedy the breach (perhaps by giving the pet away).

(*NB: If you rent a property that is managed by an owners corporation, you will need consent from the owners corporation to keep pets.  However, consent cannot be unreasonably withheld. Check the FAQ Body corporate/owner’s corporation for more information.)

Reviewed: 20/6/2019