Changes to residential tenancy law – coming soon

The Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2019 commences on 1 November 2019. This Act introduces new types of applications made by landlords and tenants at ACAT.

Parties will be able to apply to ACAT about:

  • Rent increases: A lessor may apply for approval to increase the rental rate more than the prescribed amount, i.e. more than the percentage increase of the rent’s component of CPI plus 10%. A tenant may apply for a review of a proposed increase.
  • Modifications: A lessor may apply for approval of their refusal to consent to special modifications. A tenant may ask for an order that the lessor unreasonably refused to consent to their request.
  • Pets: Lessors may seek approval to refuse consent to keep an animal, or to impose a condition for keeping a pet. A tenant may ask ACAT to resolve a dispute about whether a condition is reasonable.

The Justice and Community Safety Directorate has fact sheets about:

  • keeping pets
  • making modifications
  • break lease fees
  • excessive rent increases.

Find out more about rental property disputes at ACAT.

Rental property stakeholder forum

ACAT held a residential tenancy stakeholder forum on Wednesday 21 August 2019.  We discussed the practice and procedure of ACAT.

Legislation, Policy and Projects (from the Justice and Community Safety Directorate) also gave an overview of the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2019.

You can download the PowerPoint slides from the forum (go to presentations and speeches).

Feedback on ACAT's website

To give feedback on our new website take our survey which has 6 quick questions.

Retirement village complaints and conciliation agreements

Under new laws, a complaint can be made to the ACT Human Rights Commission (the Commission) about a retirement village operator.

The Commission may try to resolve the complaint by conciliation. If the complaint is not resolved and is closed by the Commission, the person making the complaint can ask for the complaint to be referred to ACAT.

ACAT can also make orders that give effect to conciliation agreements made at the Commission.

Find out more about retirement village disputes at ACAT.

Video about hearings

On 24 July 2019, ACAT published a video about final hearings.

Watch our video to find out what to expect at an ACAT hearing.

Increase in ACAT fees

On 1 July 2019, ACAT fees will increase by up to 2.5%. Find out more about fees.

There is also a new process to apply for a free audio recording or transcript of a proceeding.

Launch of ACAT's new website

On  24 June 2019 ACAT introduced a new website.

The new website shows our commitment to service delivery and access to justice.

At ACAT, we want to keep procedures simple, quick, inexpensive and informal, while also achieving justice.

Our new website:

Contact us for more information.

New ACAT jurisdiction for motor accident injuries

The Motor Accident Injuries Act 2019 replaces the current at‐fault compensation scheme operating under the Road Transport (Third-Party Insurance) Act 2008 with a new hybrid no‐fault defined benefits scheme (which will preserve common law claims in cases involving significant long term injuries). Claims for common law damages will continue where the Whole Person Impairment assessment is 10% or more.

The Act gives new jurisdiction to ACAT to:

  • decide the disbursement of death benefits
  • review decisions by an insurer that are specified in regulations
  • review specified decisions of the MAI Commissioner
  • review significant occupational impact reports
  • determine applications for future treatment payments.

The default commencement of the Act is 31 May 2020. It may commence sooner on a day fixed by written notice given by the Minister.

ACAT celebrates 10 years

ACAT celebrated its 10 year anniversary in February 2019.

ACAT began operations on 2 February 2009 when  16 jurisdictions and tribunals were consolidated into its structure, forming a ‘super tribunal’ to consider and resolve applications by various parties on a wide range of issues.

Alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation, is used wherever possible to negotiate agreed settlements between parties to an application.

The tribunal’s objectives require it to be accessible, quick, affordable, professional and fair.

The milestone was celebrated at a reception with the Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay MLA and representatives of the legal community.

Find out more about ACAT.

Glossary and terms

Glossary and terms

ACT Civil and Administrative TribunalA tribunal established under the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2008. It may also be referred to as ACAT or Tribunal.

Adjourn (or adjournment)To suspend or postpone a preliminary conference, mediation or hearing and reschedule it for a future date.

Administrative reviewACAT has jurisdiction to review some administrative decisions made by the ACT Government. Find out about Review of ACT Government decisions.

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR)Also known as dispute resolution. This is a way of resolving disputes without a formal hearing. It may involve a preliminary conference or mediation. ADR is used to help parties resolve cases by agreement.

AnorMeans ‘and another’. This term is generally used to name parties to proceedings when there is more than one applicant or respondent.

Appeal TribunalA tribunal constituted under section 81 of the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal 2008 to review a decision of the tribunal (not all ACAT decisions are appealable at ACAT – you may need to go to the Supreme Court).

AppellantThe individual or company that appeals an ACAT decision.

Authorising lawsA law that says an application (including referrals) may be made to ACAT. An authorising law may also set out the powers ACAT has in a case. Also see ‘jurisdiction’.

ApplicantThe individual or company that brings a case to ACAT, usually by making an application.

Calling a witnessA party or their representative will ‘call a witness’ at an ACAT hearing when they ask a witness to give evidence.

CaseAlso known as a matter, dispute, application or referral. Cases come to ACAT when ACAT has jurisdiction (power) to make a decision.

Cross-examinationThe process of asking a witness questions to test or check the evidence that the witness has given to ACAT.

Deliver a decisionAlso ‘handing down a decision’. This is giving a decision about an ACAT case. It may be done verbally or in writing (or both).

DirectionsInstructions that set out what each party must do (and when), often to prepare a case for hearing.

Directions hearingA short hearing where an ACAT Member or Registrar decides how to manage a case and what needs to be done before a hearing. Find out about directions hearings.

Ex parte orderAn order made by ACAT where one or more parties were not present.

Expert reportA written report from an expert that may be used as evidence.

Expert witnessA person with specialised knowledge based on their training, study or experience. An expert can give evidence at a hearing. Find out more about witness statements.

Final directions hearingSometimes ACAT will hold a final directions hearing prior to the final hearing of an application. The purpose is to make sure the case is ready to go to a hearing and give the parties a chance to ask questions about the hearing process.

Handed upGiving documents to an ACAT Member or Registrar in a hearing.

In chambersWhen ACAT considers something without holding a hearing.

Joined party (joined/joinder)A party who was not originally a party to the dispute but has later been added to the case.

JurisdictionACAT’s authority (power) to deal with, hear and decide applications (cases).

LeaveIf someone asks for leave, they are usually asking for permission to do something.

List (or listing)A schedule (or list) of cases to be heard at ACAT each day.

Listing noticeA letter or written document from ACAT that sets out when a conference, mediation or hearing is scheduled at ACAT.

MediationA private meeting where parties discuss ways to resolve their dispute, with the help of an impartial mediator (who is also an ACAT Member or Registrar). It is held under section 35 of the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2008.

Non-publication and/or non-disclosure orderAlso called a ‘suppression order’. It is an order that requires certain information not to be published or disclosed. It is made under section 39 of the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2008. Find out about public hearings and confidentiality.

Notice to partiesA letter sent to the parties in a case that sets out the time, date and location for an ACAT conference, mediation or hearing.

Opening statementUsually means a statement made at the beginning of a hearing to outline the key points in the case. Sometimes parties are asked to give an opening statement at a mediation or preliminary conference.

Originating applicationAn application that starts an ACAT case.

Party or partiesAn individual or company directly involved in an ACAT case, for example an applicant or respondent. Find out how to identify and name parties.

Preliminary conferenceA private meeting where parties discuss ways to resolve their dispute with the help of an ACAT Member or Registrar. See section 33 of the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2008. ACAT has different types of preliminary conferences.

RegistryThe administrative section of ACAT that accepts documents lodged by parties, handles enquiries and provides support for case management.

RepresentativeA person who represents or advocates for an individual or company at a conference, mediation or hearing at ACAT. For example, a legal practitioner or an attorney appointed under a general power of attorney.

Reserved decisionWhen an ACAT Member or Registrar reserves a decision (at the end of a hearing), this means they will give their decision later, either verbally or in writing (sometimes both).

RespondentThe party (or parties) against whom orders or relief is sought.

Short service orderAn order that authorises a shorter time for service (than the time otherwise required).

Serve/serviceA person who can give evidence at a hearing. Find out about witness statements.

Statement of reasonsA document that explains why ACAT made an order in a case. It sets out the law relied on by an ACAT Member or Registrar and explains how the law was applied to the facts of the case. You can request a written statement of reasons within 14 days after an order is made. Find out about statement of reasons.

StayAn order for a particular action (or decision) to be put on hold or suspended for a period of time.

SubmissionA document that sets out your side of a case or dispute and the relevant law. It is presented to ACAT either in writing, verbally or both. Find out about submissions.

SubpoenaRequires a person to appear at ACAT to give evidence or provide documents (or both). Find out about subpoenas.

Substituted service orderAn order that says how a party is to be served with an application or other documents related to the proceedings. In a civil dispute or a rental dispute, an applicant will need to consider asking for a substituted service order if they do not have a physical address for the respondent. Find out about lodging and serving documents.

WitnessA person who can give evidence at a hearing. Find out about witness statements.