If you are a tenant on a lease (a ‘Residential Tenancy Agreement’) then you are ‘entitled to quiet enjoyment of the residential premises without interruption by the landlord.’ This means when you rent a house or apartment your landlord should not interfere with your ‘reasonable peace, comfort or privacy’. It is not limited to the amount of noise in your home. For the period of the lease, the landlord and their agents should leave you alone, other than for specified reasons. They should not drop in unannounced, give notice of visits and seek your consent to come into the house or apartment.

A landlord or their agent must also ‘take all reasonable steps to ensure that the landlord’s other neighbouring tenants do not interfere with the reasonable peace, comfort or privacy of the tenant in using the residential premises’ (NSW Residential Tenancies Act 2010). For example, if there are noise problems in your block of apartments you can ask them to action through the block’s Body Corporate. It is unclear as to whether a building site nearby is considered a breach, or whether this applies to neighbours that do not share your landlord.

What ‘reasonable peace, comfort or privacy’ means may vary depending on the circumstances. There are a set of rules about them seeking consent and providing notice for them to come into your place. If they come to inspect the premises they can only do that 4 times in any 12-month period and need to give 7 days notice each time. For necessary, but non-urgent repairs they need to give 2 days notice. For properties that become for sale, they cannot take photos of your private property, e.g., your bed, your couch, your clothes that are stored in the built in wardrobe; and can only show prospective buyers through 2 times in a week and giving 14 days notice for the first showing, or as agreed, and and 48 hours notice each time after that.

There are a couple of reasons they can enter without consent or notice. For example, the landlord (or sometimes a tradesperson working for them) can enter your residence without consent or notice; in an emergency, to do urgent repairs, or if they have an Order from the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT). Even in these cases there are some limits on entry without consent.

If your privacy and ‘quiet enjoyment’ is constantly disrupted, you can apply to the NCAT for an order for the landlord to stop, for you to change the locks or break the lease without penalty. Seek advice from an SRC caseworker.