Applying to the Tribunal

You can make an application to the Tribunal electronically through its website or by filling out an application form. The Tribunal’s application forms are available from the Tribunal’s website, Service NSW centres and Tenants Advice and Advocacy Services.

As at May 2016, the application fee for ‘residential proceedings’ in the Tribunal’s Consumer and Commercial Division is $47 (it’s the same for landlords and tenants). Pensioners and students pay $5. The application fee for consumer or commercial proceedings (such as an application under the Fair Trading Act 1987 (NSW)) is $47 if the amount claimed is not more than $10,000; for higher amounts the fee is higher (NCAT Regulation, Schedule 2).

Applications and time limits

The two most common types of application to the Tribunal, and the time limits for each, are:

  • Applications by landlords for termination, where the landlord has given a termination notice and the tenant has not moved out – 30 days from the termination date in the notice (Residential Tenancies Act 2010, section 83(2));
  • Applications (by landlords or tenants) for orders about a breach of a tenancy agreement – 3 months from when the applicant became aware of the breach (RT Act 2010, section 190).

Where there is no time limit stated in the RT Act 2010 or the RT Reg 2010, the Civil and Administrative Tribunal Rules 2014 (NSW) (NCAT Rules 2014) set a time limit of 28 days from when the party became entitled to make the application (Rule 23(3)(b)). For some types of application (for example, applications for a declaration that the RT Act applies to an agreement (section 11), or that an occupant is recognised as a tenant (section 77)), the imposition of this time limit may produce outcomes that are strange or harsh, and having no time limit would make more sense.

This is changed

The CTTT’s legislation did not set a time limit where none was specified in other legislation. For these sorts of applications, it was assumed that the six-year time limit on proceedings arising from contracts applied: Limitation Act 1969 (NSW), section 14(1)(a).

Tables 5.2 and 5.3 present time limits for all applications to the Tribunal under the RT Act 2010, the RT Reg 2010 and the NCAT Rules 2014. (The latter are marked * in the tables.)

Table 5.2. Tenants’ applications and time limits

Application

Time limit

Access to premises – compensation for goods lost or damaged (s 61(2))

28 days*

Access to premises by landlord – days, times and purposes (s 61(1))

28 days*

Application of the Act – declaration (s 11)

28 days*

Bond – payment (s 175)

Either:

  • 6 months from when Renting Services paid out the bond; or
  • 28 days*, if Renting Services has not paid out the bond

Breach of a tenancy agreement – any order (s 190)

3 months from when you became aware of the breach

Condition report – amendment (s 31)

28 days*

Contracting out and void terms – declaration (s 21(2))

28 days*

Dispute about validity of termination notice – declaration (s 111)

28 days*

Excessive rent because of withdrawal of goods, services or facilities (s 44(1)(b))

28 days*, and must be during the tenancy (see below)

Excessive rent increase (s 44)

30 days from when you were given the rent increase notice

Goods left behind – compensation for goods damaged by landlord (s 134(1)(a))

30 days from when you became aware of the damage

Goods left behind – compensation for goods unlawfully disposed of (s 134(1)(a))

30 days from when you became aware that the goods have been unlawfully disposed of

Goods left behind – delivery of goods left behind (s 134(1)(c))

3 months from when you became aware that the goods were in the landlord’s possession

Goods left behind – payment of proceeds of sale, or value, of goods (s 134(1)(d))

6 months from the termination of the tenancy agreement

Holding fee – repayment (s 25)

28 days*

Landlord’s termination notice is retaliatory – declaration (s 115(1)(a))

Either:

  • 30 days from when you were given the termination notice, if it’s a 90-day notice without grounds (s 85)
  • 14 days from when you were given the termination notice (all other cases)

Locks and security – altering locks and providing or withholding keys (s 73)

28 days*

Long fixed term agreements (20+ years) terms (s 20)

28 days*

Mortgagee proceedings – vesting a tenancy with mortgagee (s 125)

Either:

  • 30 days from when you were given notice of the mortgagee’s proceedings
  • ‘a reasonable time’ after completion of the mortgagee’s proceedings (but not after the mortgagee has taken possession), if you were not given notice of the proceedings

Recognition of occupant as a tenant (s 77)

28 days*

Recognition of occupant as a tenant after final AVO (s 79)

28 days*

Rent reduction – tenancy agreement frustrated (s 45)

28 days*

Residential tenancy database listing – compensation for inaccurate listing (s 187(2)(c))

28 days*

Residential tenancy database listing – removal or amendment (s 217)

28 days*

Social housing rent is excessive after cancellation of rent rebate (s 141)

30 days from the cancellation of the rent rebate

Suspension of possession order (s 114)

28 days*

Termination – hardship (s 104)

28 days*

Termination of co-tenancy (s 102)

28 days*

Written agreement – landlord must prepare and give (s 16)

28 days*

The timeframes for applications about excessive rent where there has been a withdrawal of goods, service and facilities (section 44(1)(b)) are unusual. Section 44(3) provides that a tenant may make this application ‘before the end of a tenancy’. This probably cannot be extended to allow applications after a tenancy has ended, because it appears to be a jurisdictional requirement (part of what defines the Tribunal’s ability to hear a matter) rather than a time limit. (The Tribunal can decide to extend time limits for applications within its jurisdiction, but cannot decide extend its jurisdiction.) Because ‘before the end of a tenancy’ is probably not a time limit, you should assume that the default 28-day time limit applies to these applications too.
 

Table 5.3. Time limits – landlords’ applications

Application

Time limit

Access to premises by landlord (s 60)

28 days*

Application of the act – declaration (s 11)

28 days*

Bond – payment (s 175)

Either:

  • 6 months from when Renting Services paid out the bond; or
  • 28 days*, if Renting Services has not paid out the bond

Breach of a tenancy agreement – any order (s 190)

3 months from when the landlord became aware of the breach

Condition report – amendment (s 31)

28 days*

Contracting out and void terms – declaration (s 21(2))

28 days*

Dispute about validity of termination notice – declaration (s 111)

28 days*

Goods left behind – direction as to dealing with goods (s 133)

28 days*

Goods left behind – payment of occupation fee (s 134(2))

28 days*

Holding fee – payment (s 25)

28 days*

Locks and security – altering locks and providing or withholding keys (s 73)

28 days*

Possession – occupants remaining after termination (s 95)

28 days*

Tenant’s termination notice on grounds of breach – revocation (s 98(4))

7 days from when the landlord was given the termination notice

Termination – hardship (s 93)

28 days*

Termination – landlord’s application following tenant’s termination notice (s 105)

30 days from the termination date in the termination notice

Termination – serious damage or injury by tenant or occupant (s 90)

28 days*

Termination – tenancy of 20+ years (s 94)

28 days*

Termination – threat, abuse, intimidation or harassment by tenant or occupant (s 92)

28 days*

Termination – use of premises for illegal purpose (s 91)

28 days*

Termination by landlord after giving termination notice (s 83(2))

30 days from the termination date in the termination notice

Extensions of time

If you’re outside the time limit, you can ask the Tribunal for an extension of time to make your application (NCAT Act 2013, section 41). Lodge your application in the usual way, and note on it that one of the orders you seek is an extension of time. At the hearing, be prepared to explain to the Tribunal why it is fair to allow the extension and, in particular, how the delay has not disadvantaged the other party.

Urgent hearings

Most applications to the Tribunal get a hearing about three weeks after lodgement.

You can ask for your application to be heard urgently, but you will have to convince the Tribunal that the matter is urgent. Write your request and explanation in a cover letter attached to your application form. You should also attach copies of evidence of the urgency. Applications for urgent hearings cannot be lodged electronically.

What the Tribunal does not deal with

There are legal limits on the types of disputes that the Tribunal can deal with, and the orders it can make.

The Tribunal does not deal with:

  • social housing decisions about eligibility, rental rebates and other policy matters;
  • disputes between co-tenants about the payment of money (except in relation to the payment of bond to a former co-tenant);
  • residential tenancy disputes about amounts of money, or repairs, in excess of $15,000 (except in relation to bonds: the limit here is $30,000).