How does eviction work and can a landlord kick you out for no reason?
Renters in New South Wales will soon no longer have to worry about no-grounds evictions after cross-party support to ban the practice, but it still remains in place across much of Australia.
The reform won't end all evictions, either – landlords in NSW and elsewhere in the country still have the power to tell their tenants to leave when they have a suitable reason.
So why can renters be told to find a new place to live, and how exactly does eviction work in Australia?
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How does eviction work in Australia?
Rental legislation – and therefore eviction rights and processes – is in the hands of states and territories in Australia, and therefore varies depending on which part of the country you're living in.
It also depends on the type of rental agreements, as there are different requirements for fixed terms (like your standard six- or 12-month contract) and periodic or rolling leases.
Generally speaking, evictions require a landlord to provide written notice to a tenant requiring them to vacate the premises on a certain date. The necessary notice period depends on the jurisdiction and type of lease.
The renter will need to leave the property by that date, and if they don't, the landlord can seek legal or tribunal orders to forcibly remove them.
However, tenants can also challenge some cases. This might include claiming it was a retaliatory eviction, or that the notice wasn't issued properly (for example by not following the required notice period).
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What are grounds for eviction in Australia?
Putting aside no-grounds evictions for the moment, there are some reasons landlords can have for telling their tenants to leave.
Again, it varies from state to state, so you should check with your relevant local body to see what the laws are where you live.
Not paying rent, damaging the property or using the premises for illegal activities are things that would be considered grounds for eviction, and most likely fall under a breach of the tenancy agreement.
Generally speaking, an eviction can also be issued if the landlord decides to sell the property and their tenant is on a rolling lease.
However, if a fixed agreement is in place, both the existing and new landlord cannot kick the renter out over the sale.
That brings us to the question of: can a landlord just kick you out for no reason? The answer in most parts of the country remains yes, thanks to no-grounds evictions.
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What is a no-fault or no-grounds eviction, and which states and territories still have them?
A no-grounds or no-fault eviction occurs when a landlord decides to remove their tenant even though there's no breach of the agreement.
Once again, the regulations around them vary between jurisdictions, but in most states and territories, renters can be issued with a no-grounds eviction if they are either on a rolling lease or if their fixed term has come to an end.
There are some exceptions.
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Queensland introduced new legislation, which came into effect in October 2022, that ended no-fault evictions, although both tenants and landlords can end tenancy agreements without a reason at the end of a fixed term.
Both Victoria and Tasmania have similar laws.
The ACT "removed all forms of tenancy termination without a cause" in November 2022, prohibiting non-fault evictions from all rental agreements.
As for NSW, cross-party support for an election promise from the government to end no-grounds evictions means it will be outlawed in the state.
However, until that commitment is legislated, the practice remains legal, and is likely to remain so for a while yet while the government undergoes consultation with stakeholders.
As for Western Australia, the Northern Territory and South Australia, there's no legislation addressing no-grounds evictions.