- Posted By Prince Lakshman
When renting a property, it’s common knowledge that landlords and tenants share responsibility for maintaining a rental property. But who’s really responsible for what?
- Landlords must ensure that a property is in its good state of repair before the tenants move into the property. It should be safe and clean and fit for tenancy.
- Landlords are responsible for making major repairs during the tenancy. The tenants, on the other hand, are responsible for keeping the property clean and hygienic, and preventing any potential maintenance issues arising.
- It is the landlords responsibility to repair any electric, water or gas problems, as well as any repairs to the building’s doors, windows, ceilings, and roofing.
- Generally, landlords are responsible for repairs, unless the property damage was inflicted by the tenants.
- In the Tenancy Agreement, the landlord’s obligations are going to be outlined. This is the reason why it’s very important for both parties to read and understand the terms of the agreement before signing it.
WHAT IS CLASSIFIED AS ‘EMERGENCY’
Emergency repairs generally include the following:
- serious roof leaks
- blocked or broken toilet systems
- gas leaks
- burst water services
- serious storm, fire or impact damage
- dangerous electrical faults
- flooding or serious flood damage
- failure or breakdown of essential services or appliances on the premises for hot water, cooking, heating. For example: disruption of gas, electricity or water supply, or other faults/damages that make the premises uninhabitable
If the repair isn’t considered to be an emergency, it is only considered as routine. How it’s classified ultimately determines how long the landlord has to address the problem.
WHAT TO DO IN AN EMERGENCY?
The information about what to do in an emergency must be included in the Tenancy Agreement. This should include who to contact and how to reach the landlord after hours.
In emergency situations, the contacts written in the tenancy agreement are the tenant’s first port of call.
WHAT TO DO WHEN LANDLORD CAN’T BE REACHED?
In the event you can’t contact your landlord, you can make your own arrangements to have the repairs done and ask your landlord to reimburse the costs at a later date.
In most states, however, landlords are only liable for repairs up to a certain amount. And so tenants shouldn’t pay more than this amount when arranging repairs. For example, in Victoria, tenants shouldn’t pay more than $1,800.
Make sure you at least try to contact your landlord – and keep a record of your attempts to reach them – before contacting your own tradespeople.
HOW TO GET REIMBURSED IF YOU PAY FOR REPAIR SERVICES?
As earlier said, the landlord must reimburse you the money you paid for emergency repairs.
When claiming for a reimbursement, you’ll need to provide a copy of the invoice or receipt, as well as a short letter stating what happened, the repair that’s done, and the amount to be paid.
Landlords are obliged to reimburse the amount within a reasonable time frame. The exact period varies from state to state, but usually it’s no longer than 14 days; in some states, it’s seven.
The landlord or agent can also apply to the tribunal if they think they have good reason not to pay for the emergency repairs.
WHAT IF THE REPAIRS ARE ROUTINE?
In non-emergency situations, tenants should make repair requests in writing. Thereafter, the landlord or agent should agree and carry out the repair/s within a reasonable time.
If the landlord fails to carry out the repairs, the tenant may issue a Notice to Remedy Breach, which usually gives the landlord seven days notice to carry out the repairs.
If nothing comes out of this, the tenant can then write to Consumer Affairs, or seek advice from their state tribunal. The tribunal will generally either issue compensation, or require rent to be paid to the tribunal until the repairs are complete.
The tenant should continue to pay rent even when landlords fail to carry out repairs. Withholding rent is a breach of the tenancy agreement and provides grounds for the landlord to terminate the tenancy.