Landlord maintenance failures leaving rentals falling into disrepair
- Tenants reporting rental properties with major maintenance issues
- Lack of action by some landlords creating unsafe and unhealthy homes
- Landlords warned not to undertake unlicensed plumbing or electrical repairs
Consumer Protection is receiving numerous reports of sub-standard rental properties being leased to WA tenants from some private landlords.
These landlords are failing to properly maintain their properties and carry out essential repairs that are creating dangerous hazards with the potential to harm tenants.
Inspections of some of the properties subject to tenant complaints have uncovered:
- Cracked or boarded up windows
- Gaps around window frames wide enough to fit an arm through
- Roof tiles, bricks and floorboards missing, causing leaks and mould
- Termite damage creating a safety risk for tenants
- Infestations of rats and cockroaches
- Fire damage leaving a home without a functioning kitchen
So far this year, there have been 188 complaints and 2,246 enquiries relating to repair and maintenance issues. In 2020, there were a total of 130 complaints and 2,755 enquiries.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection Gary Newcombe is disturbed by the reports which show that a few landlords are exploiting tenants in the current tight rental market.
“It’s the landlord’s responsibility to provide a safe and healthy environment in their rental properties and to attend to any maintenance and repair issues promptly,” Mr Newcombe said.
“To rent out a property that is sub-standard is a serious dereliction of those responsibilities. It is important that a reasonable budget for maintenance and repairs be allocated to bring the property up to what would be regarded as at least a minimum standard.
“In the worst cases, the local Council may deem the property to be uninhabitable, meaning it can’t be rented out or sold until improvements are made, or it could even be demolished.
“I am also alarmed at reports that some landlords, their relatives or friends may be carrying out their own repairs that require the expertise of a qualified and licensed tradesperson, such as plumbing and electrical work.
“It‘s also important to note that, by law, the installation, maintenance and replacement of smoke alarms remains the responsibility of the property owner, not the tenants. Property owners must arrange replacement of all types of smoke alarms every 10 years and only a licensed electrical contractor can replace hard-wired smoke alarms.
“Some enquiries from tenants suggest they have been offered rent reductions or rent-free periods to carry out their own maintenance work, as well as clean up a previous tenant’s mess or dispose of furniture and other items left behind. This is not acceptable, as landlords should not be delegating their responsibilities to tenants in this way.
“Due to the low rental vacancy rate, tenants may feel trapped because they fear they may not easily find another home to rent or be able to afford the cost of moving, but we encourage them to lodge a complaint with us to resolve these issues.
“Tenants in these situations are reminded that they can breach the landlord for failing to carry out urgent or essential repairs and, if the matter goes to court, tenants may be released from their rental contract obligations and even be awarded compensation.”
Media Contact: Claudine Murphy, (08) 6552 9357 / 0417 938 542 / firstname.lastname@example.org
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