Commissioner's blog: Renters entitled to timely repairs
There’s no place like home, so when unexpected damage occurs to a rental property it’s important for tenants to be across their rights and know that they can come to us when issues aren’t fixed in a reasonable time.
Regardless of whether damage to a rental property occurs due to wild weather or a structural issue, the landlord is legally responsible for necessary repairs and maintenance to bring the property back to a liveable condition.
Consumer Protection recently became aware of one family who had been living under a tarpaulin for three weeks after a large part of their rental property’s ceiling spontaneously collapsed, and we are currently helping the parties to reach an agreement.
Issues that could damage the property or cause someone harm or undue hardship require landlords and property managers to initiate urgent repairs within 48 hours. For damage to essential services, like water, gas electricity or sewerage, the time limit is 24 hours. If damage to the property has reduced the facilities available, tenants may be entitled to a rent reduction.
If no action is taken, the tenant may serve a notice for the repairs to be carried out as soon as practicable, or they may directly employ a suitably qualified repairer to carry out the works to a minimum standard, with the landlord being required to reimburse them for the costs.
Should the landlord fail to cover these costs, the tenant can apply to the Magistrates Court for an order. For this reason, tenants should keep receipts and a record of contact with the landlord.
We know that travelling conmen target storm-damaged areas, so both tenants and landlords should avoid employing tradespeople who contact them out of the blue offering to complete work at cheap rates.
Tenants who believe their landlord or agent has failed to initiate repairs within a reasonable timeframe should contact Consumer Protection on email@example.com or by calling 1300 30 40 54.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection
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