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Contributed by Anahita Surya and current to March 2022

What is trespass?

Deliberately interfering with someone else’s land without permission constitutes trespass.

Some common trespass scenarios include:
  • Entering someone’s property without their permission;
  • Leaving objects (tools, bins, rubbish etc.) on someone else’s property;
  • Pets entering someone else’s property.
If your neighbour is trespassing, you have the right to ask them to leave or remove the object that is trespassing. If they refuse to do so, you have the option of pursuing formal action.

Before doing so, it is advisable that you try to resolve the issue in a friendly manner. If you need mediation support, contact the ACT Conflict Resolution Service on 6189 0590 (main office) for confidential and affordable assistance. If unsuccessful, you can seek an order from the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT). To talk to someone about your dispute, contact the Legal Aid ACT Helpline (9am to 4pm on weekdays) on 1300 654 314.

What can I do?

You can seek a trespass order from the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT) by lodging a Civil Disputes Application form. Before you do so, you must give your neighbour a letter of demand outlining your concerns. If this is unsuccessful, submit a Civil Disputes Application form to ACAT. You will have to pay an application fees. In some cases, this fee may be waived. More information on costs can be found on the ACAT website. ACAT will then list the case for a conference or a hearing. ACAT can make the following orders:
  • Order requiring your neighbour to stop trespassing;
  • Compensation for any damage caused by the trespass. Note that the amount you are seeking must be less than $25,000.
Breach of an ACAT order can lead to proceedings in the Magistrate’s Court.

For more detailed information, refer to the ACAT website.

If you feel threatened or harassed by your neighbour’s conduct, call the police on 000. You can also apply for a Personal Protection Order (PPO). Refer to the section on PPOs for more information.

Trespass information for tenants

Tenants have a legal right to enjoy their rented property without interference. The same trespass laws and remedies are available to all occupiers, including tenants. Tenants can stop their landlord or real estate agent from entering the property, unless the landlord/real estate agent is permitted to enter under the lease agreement, or under the law.

These conditions can be found in the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (ACT) and are set out in the Standard Tenancy Agreement.

If your landlord or real estate agent is trespassing, you can apply to ACAT. The ACAT website contains some useful information. You can also get more information through the Tenants’ Union ‘Access and Privacy’ factsheet.

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