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The ins and outs of responsibilities for rental repairs

When something needs fixing at your rental property, you often don’t have time to waste arguing about who’s supposed to pay for it. But as a tenant, you of course don’t want to cough up the cash for something that’s your landlord’s responsibility.

Avoid delays and bust-ups over repair bills by understanding tenant’s rights and landlord’s responsibilities.

Who pays what?

  • If a required repair is the result of wear and tear over time – the landlord is responsible for paying.
  • But if the required repair is due to damage caused by you as the tenant, or one of your housemates or guests – you’ll need to pay for the repair.
  • As a tenant you’re required to report any problems or maintenance issues to your landlord or real estate agent as soon as you become aware of them.
  • The landlord is always required to attend to emergency repairs. If they’re later found to be due to tenant negligence – you’ll usually be required to pay.

When repairs aren’t made

  • In a recent case, a group of Melbourne tenants were nearly killed by a falling roof and a balcony collapse.
  • This is despite the tenants alerting the landlord to the danger numerous times in the months before.
  • And to add insult to injury, because the tenants weren’t protected by an official lease, the landlord is refusing to return their bond money, despite the fact that the collapse left them temporarily homeless.

Your lease is your protection

  • Cases like these reinforce the importance of ensuring you sign an official lease. This gives you the protections of tenancy law in your State or Territory.
  • Your lease should outline both tenant’s and landlord’s and tenant’s rights and responsibilities, along with important details such as:
    • the acceptable timeframe for non-urgent repairs
    • the acceptable timeframe for urgent repairs
    • the procedures to follow when repairs are needed
    • a list of approved emergency repair technicians, such as plumbers and electricians.

So, what are your landlord’s obligations?

  • The law says that all landlords have to guarantee the safety of a rented property and its contents.
  • They must ensure they look after the property inside and out so that tenants – and their neighbours and the public – are not at risk of injury or damage.
  • In addition to this obligation, each Australian state and territory has its own specific requirements for landlords to meet.
  • This handy guide outlines the responsibilities and obligations landlords have in each area.

What to do if you need help

Understanding your rights as a tenant, and knowing what your landlord or real estate agent are responsible for is the best way to ensure your rental home is kept in good and safe repair.