Emergency repairs and services
Advice for consumers affected by an emergency
Depending what caused the emergency – an accident or a natural disaster - whatever the damage and cause, here are few steps to help you fix up your home and get the help you need.
Stay safe – asbestos, electrical and gas safety
In the case of an emergency, make sure you and your family remain safe. Fallen down power lines, exposed wiring, broken glass or flooded areas can be very unsafe. Make sure you report damage to relevant services and ask for their advice on avoiding hazards.
In cases where major damage has be made from a natural disaster, risk of being exposed to asbestos fibres increases. WorkSafe provides advice on cleaning up asbestos and licensed asbestos removalists.
Building and Energy have shared advice on managing electrical and gas issues after a disaster.
Key tips include
- do not plug a portable generator into household power points or connect it to wiring or any part of the electricity network. More information is available at Safe use of portable generators
- have electrical or gas infrastructure (including LPG appliances and cylinders) checked by a licensed electrician, gas fitter, gas supplier or network operator before use
- do not do any DIY electrical, gas or plumbing work
- do not use any manual ignition tools like matches or candles when returning to a damaged property (gas leaks may be an issue)
- do not use portable outdoor gas appliances indoors. Only use them for their intended purpose and in the open air.
Electric shocks from taps, pipes, appliances or other exposed metallic surfaces at home are warning signs that something could be wrong with the electrical wiring or appliances. Make sure you are aware of the warning signs and how to report any Electric shocks.
Consumers should ensure they are engaging with suitably qualified tradespeople and speak to your insurer before hiring any tradespeople.
Where possible obtain more than one quote before hiring tradespeople. Be clear about the scope of the job, so you know exactly what you are paying for.
Unfortunately there are people who can take advantage of consumers in need of urgent repairs. Be wary of approaches from travelling conmen, tradespeople who make offers such as, ‘cheaper for cash’, ‘discounts for pensioners’, and those that promise to complete repairs faster or cheaper than other businesses.
Individuals are not permitted to undertake work such as electrical, gas, plumbing, and asbestos removal unless they hold a licence. Ask for their full name and registration or licence number and use our online search tool to confirm whether they are appropriately licensed.
Damage to a rental property
People with a rental property in affected areas, either as the tenant or the landlord, may be experiencing damage or destruction to their property. Our publications about major damage to a rental property will assist tenants and landlords understand their rights and responsibilities during a natural disaster.
Property damaged while ‘under offer’
If a property was damaged that you were under contract to buy, please contact our Contact Centre for assistance - email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1300 30 40 54.
Sale of water damaged motor vehicles
Our disaster advice about damaged vehicles, as well as our factsheet on storm and flood damaged vehicles will provide buyers with information on their rights and what to look out for when looking for a second-hand vehicle that may water damaged.
Scams and donating to disaster relief charities
Before donating to a charity to assist in disaster releif, check if the charity is on the list of licensed charities in WA, as well as the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission’s (ACNC) online charity register.
Check what your insurance policy covers for any repairs or assistance. Your best bet is to deal directly with your insurer or an authorised, trusted insurance broker or financial advisor for help with making a claim. They will be able to help you with:
- Check your coverage - If your property has been damaged in a natural disaster, you will need to have been covered for the event like fire, storms and/or floods.
- Tell you about any preferred repairers - they may need to authorise repairs and tradespeople before they happen.
- Should you need emergency accommodation, your insurer may also be able to assist.
- Any requirements to safeguard your property. Many policies require you to take reasonable steps to minimise the loss — for example, by placing a tarp over a broken roof to prevent further water damage, boarding up a broken window or moving undamaged items to a safe and secure place.
- What evidence you need to keep. You may be asked to record or photograph damage of your property and to make a list of all the damage, including as much detail as possible.
It is important to note any excess limits on your policy - you may also wish to pay your tradesperson directly if your building and contents insurance has an excess beyond the cost of repairs.
There are plenty of resources and support for people who are experiencing hardship or have been involved in an emergency. Many services offer specific support after a natural disaster.
- Moneysmart’s website has plenty of information about managing your money:
- Check with services such as Telstra, Water Corporation or Western Power for any assistance they provide.
- The State Government will publish any announcement for financial support after an emergency.
- Services Australia have information about payments and services for people who need help in an emeregency. 180 22 66:
- The Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements Western Australia (DRFAWA) provide a range of financial assistance to those affected by disasters. Information about DRFAWA is available on the Department of Fire and Emergency Services website. It can cover:
- personal hardship and distress assistance;
- demolition or rebuilding;
- removal of debris;
- extraordinary counter disaster operations;
- personal and financial counselling;
- counter disaster operations;
- reconstruction of essential public assets;
- interest rate subsidy to small businesses and primary producers; and
- freight subsidies for primary producers.
Always try to resolve your issues directly with the business or tradesperson you are having trouble with. Keep any evidence of your attempts to handle the issue. Follow our tips on the Consumer complaint checklist.
If you need to make a complaint against your insurer, you can lodge a complaint with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA). If you’ve lost your insurance details, the Insurance Hotline can help on 1800 734 621.
Need some assistance?
If you need advice on your rental property or handling a tradesperson, contact Consumer Protection on 1300 304 054 or by email for advice
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