What is the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal?
If you are a tenant or think you may be a tenant, and you’re having problems with your landlord, agent or head-tenant, you can apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) to have the matter resolved. NCAT is an amalgamation of a number of other smaller Tribunals. Before NCAT, tenancy issues were heard at the Consumer Trader and Tenancy Tribunal (CTTT).
NCAT has a number of different divisions. The division for tenancy and boarding house disputes is called the Consumer and Commercial Division.
NCAT sits at various locations in Sydney and throughout NSW. It is designed to provide cheap and informal resolutions to disputes between landlords and tenants. The application fee for an NCAT application is less than a court, and there are usually no other costs involved, such as legal fees. Refer to the NCAT website for up-to-date fees and charges.
To start an application in NCAT, you fill out a form and lodge it with a Tribunal registry, in person, by mail or online. The form asks you what orders you want NCAT to make and why.
If you make an application to NCAT, you will need to provide evidence of your claims. For example, if your landlord failed to carry out repairs over a period of time, you should have copies of letters asking for the repairs to be done, photographs of the problem or statements from witnesses who can confirm your claims.
Before going to a hearing, you will be given the chance to negotiate with your landlord in conciliation. This will involve both you and your landlord presenting your evidence and trying to come to an agreement on the matter. A conciliator can be provided to assist negotiations if desired. If you make an agreement, NCAT will turn your agreement into orders.
If you can’t reach an agreement, you will go on to an informal or formal hearing. Most people choose an immediate informal hearing. A Tribunal Member hears the case and usually there is no legal representation. If you choose a formal hearing, then witnesses can give sworn statements, and the case proceeds a little more like a court. If you are planning to take a case to NCAT, contact your local tenants’ advice service for information about what you need to do to lodge an application and prepare for the hearing (see Contact Points).
If your landlord has applied to NCAT, make sure you turn up for the hearing. If you don’t show up, NCAT can still make orders against you. Even if you have no written evidence in support of your case, it is important that you take the opportunity to defend yourself and explain what happened. Your circumstances will generally be taken into account and it may be possible to get more time to move out or negotiate a settlement.