Did you know that there is a legal differentiation between urgent (emergency) repairs and those which are not urgent? The difference is important as it determines the action which can be taken by the tenant in the instance of repairs being required.
What are the tenant's responsibilities when it comes to repairs and maintenance in a rental property?
As a tenant, if you notice that something in the property fails to work as it should or otherwise needs repair, you should contact your property manager or landlord as soon as possible.
Even in instances where you think you could live with the issue, you property manager or landlord should be informed so they can investigate and take action if needed as soon as possible. If a tenant fails to do this, he or she could be held responsible for expenses relating to the repair.
The landlord is responsible for ensuring the property is kept in a reasonable state of repair given the age of the property and the rent being paid. Of course, they must also comply with building, health and safety laws. However, the landlord is not obligated to fix every issue brought to their attention.
As a tenant, unless agreed otherwise, you are responsible for such tasks as replacing light bulbs, changing smoke detector batteries, cleaning windows, dusting, removing cobwebs and routine garden maintenance such as watering, mowing and weeding.
Can tenants arrange to complete repairs themselves?
Here is an important reason for understanding the distinction between an urgent repair and a non-urgent repair. A tenant cannot arrange for non-urgent repairs to be completed - by themselves or a third party - unless the landlord or property manager has agreed.
This of course implies that urgent repairs may be undertaken by the tenant without prior agreement, however there are conditions around the ability to do so (covered below).
First, we must have clarity around what is considered and urgent rather than a non-urgent repair.
What is considered an urgent repair in a rental property?
Urgent repairs are clearly defined by Fair Trading NSW as:
What do I do if I have an urgent repair and I am renting?
Your property manager or landlord should be notified immediately. They must then arrange for repair to be completed as soon as possible.
If you are unable to reach your property manager or landlord, check your tenancy agreement which may contain details of nominated tradespeople to contact in the event of an emergency.
If you are then unable to contact the nominated tradesperson, or they are unable to complete the urgent repair in a reasonable timeframe, you may be able to arrange for the work to be done and reimbursed by the landlord (up to $1,000). However, in order to arrange the urgent repair yourself must be able to show that:
In this instance, you must also provide your property manager or landlord written details of the repair and all receipts for the work completed. You are then entitled to reimbursement within 14 days of your written details being provided.
About Carnelian Property Management Newcastle
We are a family-owned and run Newcastle business. We’re landlords. We’re home owners. We’ve also been long-term tenants. We are refreshingly accessible with intimate knowledge of the greater Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and Fern Bay rental markets.
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