This occupancy information only applies if you are a boarder or lodger, or if you live on campus or in a caravan park, hotel, motel or club. Otherwise, go to Tenancy Factsheets.

For more information on the difference between occupants and tenants, see Occupancy Agreements and our Share Housing Booklet.

This Factsheet can also be downloaded as a PDF file: Occupancy Principles

Is your occupancy agreement unclear on your rights?  Are there terms that don’t seem valid? Do you have an oral or implied agreement, with nothing in writing?

Your rights will largely depend on what you’ve agreed to, but there are limits.

All occupancy agreements should be consistent with the Occupancy Principles explained below.

Occupancy rights were introduced into the law in the ACT in 2005. These rights are different to the rights that tenants have, and are designed to provide some protection to people who aren’t tenants. For more information about what types of renters have occupancy agreements, see our Occupancy Factsheet: Occupancy Agreements

Where an occupant’s rights are not being complied with, or there is a dispute about what they are, an occupant can make an application to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the Tribunal) to resolve disputes.

The Occupancy Principles

Although the terms can vary from one occupancy to another, all occupancy agreements and House Rules should be consistent with nine “Occupancy Principles”. These nine principles create certain legal rights for occupants. The Occupancy Principles are set out in section 71E of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997, as follows:

(a) an occupant is entitled to live in premises that are—

(i) reasonably clean;

(ii) in a reasonable state of repair;

(iii) reasonably secure;

(b) an occupant is entitled to know the rules of the premises before moving in;

(c) an occupant is entitled to the certainty of having the occupancy agreement in writing if the occupancy continues for longer than 6 weeks;

(d) an occupant is entitled to quiet enjoyment of the premises;

(e) a grantor is entitled to enter the premises at a reasonable time on reasonable grounds to carry out inspections or repairs and for other reasonable purposes;

(f) an occupant is entitled to 8 weeks notice before the grantor increases the amount to be paid for the right to occupy the premises;

(g) an occupant is entitled to know why and how the occupancy may be terminated, including how much notice will be given before eviction;

(h) an occupant must not be evicted without reasonable notice;

(i) a grantor and occupant should try to resolve disputes using reasonable dispute resolution processes.

If an occupant owns their own home in a mobile home park, the  grantor has to provide reasonable notice to enter the home, as well as the other requirements for access under (e) above.

This means that occupants are entitled to:

The effect of these principles

In an occupancy dispute, the law states that “the Tribunal must have regard to the Occupancy Principles” section 71E. This means that when
the Tribunal makes its decision, it should adopt a position that interprets the agreement consistently with the Occupancy Principles.

However, the Occupancy Principles are vaguely worded and their scope is unclear.
It is difficult to know for certain what the Occupancy Principles require, or when an occupancy agreement is consistent with the Principles. If you think your occupancy agreement is inconsistent with the Principles, then you should contact the Tenants’ Advice Service for further advice.

Other rights for occupants

Occupants (including boarders and lodgers) are able to go to the Tribunal if there is a dispute over the accommodation. (See Occupancy Tips: Having a Dispute?)

If the grantor requires a bond, occupants can choose to lodge the bond with the Office of Rental Bonds (ORB).  Lodging the bond puts the occupant and the grantor on an equal footing when it comes time to get your bond back (see Occupancy Tips: Bond).
Going to the Tribunal is a much easier way of reclaiming your bond than trying to persuade the grantor to give it back to you!

Please note: If you are having trouble viewing this page in Internet Explorer, try turning on Compatibility View. Alternatively, you can download this page as a PDF file: Occupancy Principles



Tenants’ Union ACT publishes this website as a free service to the public. Please note that the information on this site is only relevant to renters in the ACT.

This website provides information about the law designed to help users understand their legal rights and obligations. However legal information is not the same as legal advice (the application of law to an individual's specific circumstances). Although we make all efforts to ensure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult the Tenants Advice Service for advice specific to your circumstances. You are also free to consult an independent solicitor for a second opinion.

Please note that this website is NOT intended to be used as a substitute for specific legal advice or opinions and the transmission of this information is NOT intended to create a solicitor-client relationship between the Tenants’ Union ACT and members of the public.

Tenants’ Union ACT makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, currency, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use.  Please also note when the page was last updated, as the law may have changed.