TenantsTips / Australia / What Repairs must a tenant perform?

What Repairs must a tenant perform?

This article looks at repairs and maintenance of rental properties and gives advice to tenants in terms of obligations and responsibilities.

When you rent a property it may need some form of repair or maintenance work during the duration of your tenancy. It is important that you understand what you are responsible for and what falls under the responsibility of the landlord. Tenants Tips has prepared this handy guide to help.

What are the tenant’s repairing obligations?

A standard residential tenancy agreement state that tenants agree to the following terms:

 

  • To keep the premises ‘reasonably’ clean.
  • To report any damage to the property as soon as possible.
  • To vacate the property leaving it in the same state as at the start of the tenancy, except for ‘fair wear and tear’.
  • Not to allow damage to the property deliberately or negligently – you are responsible for damage by anyone who is on the premises with your consent.
  • Not to modify fixtures or undertake alterations or additions to the premises without the landlord’s written consent (unless permitted under the tenancy agreement).

 

If you fail to meet these obligations, the landlord may apply to the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal for order/s that you comply with your tenancy agreement, to end your tenancy or for compensation.

What are landlord’s repairing obligations?

As stated in a standard residential tenancy agreement the landlord agrees:

 

  • To provide premises which are ‘reasonably’ clean.
  • To provide and maintain the premises in ‘reasonable’ repair – even if the landlord/agent told you about disrepair at the premises before you moved in.

 

‘Reasonable’ repair depends on a number of factors such as the age of the premises, the amount of rent you pay and how long the premises is expected to remain fit for purpose. The landlord is not required to fix any disrepair caused by the tenant, although, they should attempt to limit their losses if they want to later claim compensation. Contact your local housing advisory service for advice on this matter.

What are urgent repairs?

Urgent repairs are classified as maintenance that needs to be completed immediately. Urgent repairs are issues that deem the premises unfit for occupation and could potentially put tenants at risk.

Urgent repairs are any of the following:

 

  • A burst water service
  • A blocked or broken toilet
  • A broken or malfunctioning appliance, part or fixture resulting in wasted water.
  • A serious roof leak.
  • A gas leak.
  • Serious storm or fire damage.
  • A dangerous electrical fault.
  • Flooding or serious flood damage.
  • A malfunction in the gas, electricity or water supply system.
  • A breakdown of any service used for cooking, laundry, heating or cooling.
  • Any fault making the property unsafe.

 

How do I get urgent repairs done?

If you have a maintenance problem that is urgent you should contact your landlord straight away. You can telephone so that you can explain the problem quickly, but you should also put it in writing for your records. If the landlord/agent cannot be contacted or is unwilling to do the urgent repairs, you can arrange for them to be fixed, although, you must have evidence that shows:

 

  • The problem was not your fault.
  • You made a ‘reasonable’ attempt to contact the landlord/agent.
  • You gave the landlord/agent time to do the repairs.
  • The repairs were carried out by a maintenance person named in your tenancy agreement (if possible) or by a licensed or qualified tradesperson.

 

You are required to supply the landlord/agent with written notice detailing the repairs which outline the cost. You are also required to give them a receipt. The landlord must pay you for any reasonable costs up to $1,000 within 14 days of your notice. If the landlord does not pay, make an application to the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal for an order that they do so. If you are not financially able to deal with urgent repairs, ask the tribunal for an urgent hearing for the repairs to be done. It is also possible to apply for a rent reduction until the repairs are completed.

How do I get other repairs done?

Tell the landlord/agent in writing what needs repairing and give them a fair time frame in which to complete the work. Keep a copy of the letter and a record of any conversations. This is evidence that you informed the landlord/agent about the problem.

If you deal with an agent, you can also:

 

  • Log the issue in the agency’s complaint log.
  • Contact the principal of the agency.
  • Contact your landlord directly.

 

Can I undertake repairs?

It is not advisable that you should undertake repairs yourself. If you decide to repair something yourself you must have the landlord’s prior consent before undertaking non-urgent repairs. Ask the landlord to pay you for any costs. Get their consent and agreement to pay in writing.

What should I do if my landlord fails to do repairs?

If you find yourself in this situation keep paying your rent. Refusal to pay the rent is a breach of your tenancy agreement and your landlord may take action to end your tenancy. You can try to resolve the problem by applying to the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal for the relevant orders.

Applying to the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal:

You can apply for one or more of the following orders:

 

  1. That the landlord does the repairs you have specified.
  2. That the landlord compensates you for losses you suffered because they did not do the repairs.
  3. That all or part of the rent is paid to the tribunal until the repairs are done.
  4. That the rent is reduced for the period that the premises are/were in disrepair.

 

How do I get an order for repairs?

To obtain an order for repairs from CTTT you must be able to show that:

 

  • The premises were not in a state of acceptable repair.
  • You told the landlord/agent about the need for the repairs (e.g. you wrote to them) or they ought to have reasonably known about it (e.g. they inspected the premises).
  • The landlord failed to attempt to have the repairs done (they ‘failed to act with reasonable diligence’).

 

Can I claim compensation?

Yes, you can apply for an order that the landlord compensates you for economic loss or for any physical inconvenience you have suffered. You must be able to show that your loss was a direct result of the landlord’s failure to make repairs.

The tribunal can order up to $15,000 compensation.



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