Resolving rental property issues

If you’re unhappy with the way the tenancy is going, for example the care or maintenance of the property or rent payments and inspections, try to sort out the issue amicably first.

If you still can’t agree, Consumer Protection may be able to help you sort things out in a more structured way.

In this case a tenant can lodge a formal complaint and the department will then act as an informal negotiator. When the department receives the complaint, it will look at it to decide:

  • what the dispute is about and options for helping to resolve the issue;
  • if there is any applicable law that may have been broken; or
  • whether the matter would be better handled by another organisation – in this case the department will refer you to the most appropriate organisation.

How it Consumer Protection can help

Consumer Protection will contact each person involved in the dispute to try and find a satisfactory resolution. While the aim is to resolve most complaints within 30 days, this isn’t always possible if the issue is complicated or there is a lack of co-operation. Consumer Protection cannot order or direct anyone to resolve the complaint; only a court or a tribunal can do this.

If the complaint isn't resolved

If a mutual agreement is not possible, you will be told about other options that may help, for example the Magistrates Court, other government departments or independent legal advice.

Retaliatory action

If a tenant believes their landlord or agent is taking action against them for exercising their rental rights (known as retaliatory action), they can challenge that action in the Magistrate’s Court.

  • For example, a tenant thinks their rent was deliberately increased, or their lease agreement not renewed, just because they asked for some basic maintenance or made a complaint about their landlord or agent.

Retaliatory action is action taken by the landlord or agent as payback or because the tenant sought to enforce their rental rights. Action by a landlord or agent that might be considered retaliatory includes:

  • Issuing the tenant with a breach notice (other than for non payment of rent)
  • A rent increase
  • Commencing termination action
  • Non-renewal of the tenancy agreement

Only the Magistrates Court can decide if the action by the landlord or agent is retaliatory.

The court can make an order it considers appropriate in the circumstances. This could include an order setting aside the landlord’s action or for compensation.  

What if the law has been broken?

In this case, Consumer Protection will inform the landlord or real estate agent and try to remedy the situation. More action will also be considered if it is necessary to protect other consumers. This may not help to resolve your particular dispute but it will help to prevent future problems for you and for other consumers.

Tenant assistance

Help is available for residential tenants who need further advice, require assistance in negotiating with their landlord or property manager, or have a tenancy-related legal issue through the Tenancy Advice and Education Service (TAES).

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