Privacy and Enjoyment
All tenants have a legal right to privacy and the quiet enjoyment of their home. You are entitled to refuse access to the premises to people, including your landlord and real estate agent, except where their access is authorised by your lease, or otherwise required by law. In fact they may be trespassers if they enter without your permission!
Your tenancy is regulated by the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA). The terms of your tenancy are set out in the RTA, and are known as the standard terms. They are in our Standard Lease.
All tenancy disputes can be resolved in the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT). If you have a problem regarding access or privacy that can’t be resolved by negotiation, you or the landlord can apply to have the matter heard by ACAT.
Clause 51 of the standard terms imposes an obligation on the landlord to guarantee that there is no legal impediment to the tenants’ use of the premises.
Clause 52 imposes an obligation on the landlord to guarantee that they shall not cause or permit any interference with the reasonable peace, comfort or privacy of the tenant.
Clause 53 provides that unless otherwise agreed in writing, the tenant shall have exclusive possession of the premises.
What is unlawful interference?
This depends very much on the facts of each case, but some possible examples include:
- Repeated visits by the landlord without justification;
- Interference with doors, windows, locks, water or power supply;
- Attempts to force the tenant to leavethrough noise, harassment or threats;
- Entering the premises for an inspection or repairs without giving notice in accordance with the RTA;
- Demanding access beyond that provided by the lease, or otherwise required by law.
If your right to privacy and enjoyment is being abused by the landlord or agent, you have several options:
- Write to them asking them to stop the offending behaviour, referring to their obligations under your tenancy agreement. Be sure to keep a copy of the letter (signed and dated) as evidence in case stronger action is required at a later stage. See our Sample Letter on access for suggestions.
- In serious cases, you may pursue legal action to protect your enjoyment and privacy. Interfering with a tenant’s privacy or enjoyment of the property is in breach of the agreement. The tribunal has the power to restrain any action in breach of the standard terms and to order compensation for any loss caused by a breach.
- In serious cases, the tenancy can be terminated; for example, a consistent failure to provide reasonable notice of entry. The process is set out in the Standard Lease (see Factsheet: Ending a Tenancy and Breaking a Lease). You should seek further advice before taking this step. If the problem is being caused by a real estate agent, you can make a complaint to the: Office of Fair Trading.
See also ‘Can you change the locks’