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Rental home maintenance and repairs
Obvious maintenance and repair issues should be noted in the property condition report which is required to be completed by the landlord/lessor when the tenant moves into and out of the property.
Tenants must keep the property reasonably clean and are expected to hand it back in a similar condition to how it was at the start of the agreement, taking into account normal use (fair wear and tear).
Repairs are the landlord’s responsibility, but if the tenant or resident caused the damage, including, where relevant, damage to common areas or chattels within a common area, the landlord can ask them to arrange or pay for repairs.
It is important for all parties to take note of any phone calls reporting the need for repairs and where possible communicate information about repairs in writing, and to keep copies for future reference.
Lessors/landlords also have a responsibility to respond to repair requests promptly.
Cleanliness and repairs - beginning a tenancy
Tenants should consider the state of the property before entering into a tenancy agreement. Check for pests and make sure the property is weather tight and secure. Check the doors, windows, taps and hot water system all work, fencing is sound and the state of the garden as well.
If there are any issues tenants are advised to ask the lessor/property manager if they intend to fix the problems. Make sure this is written into the tenancy agreement.
If fixtures or chattels (such as a TV aerial, air conditioners or solar hot water system) provided with the property appeared to be available when the tenant inspected it, the lessor/landlord must maintain the items unless they were disclosed as not functioning before the tenancy agreement was signed.
If there are services you wish to connect at the property during your tenancy, such as a telephone line or internet, you should ask the lessor whether there are any known issues connecting the service, before signing the tenancy agreement. You may also wish to check with your desired provider whether they can open an account at the rental address.
Before you unpack your belongings into any rental property it is a good idea to take photos of all rooms, gardens and any problem areas.
Any existing damage to the property or other issues should be noted in the property condition report.
Once the tenant has moved in
The lessor/property manager must keep the premises in a reasonable condition and make sure it complies with all WA building, health and safety laws. They are responsible for any major and many minor repairs caused by normal wear and tear plus ensuring any items provided in the house as part of the tenancy agreement (such as an air conditioning unit, stove or fridge) are kept in good working order.
The lessor/property manager does not have to fix items if they were disclosed as not working before the agreement was entered into, or those the tenant could not reasonably have expected to be working at the time the agreement was entered into.
Mould or mildew caused by faults in gutters or other fixtures should be fixed by the lessor, but tenants should still regularly air out the property to avoid mould problems in winter.
Tenants must not intentionally or negligently damage the property. If this does happen tenants must notify their lessor/property manager as soon as possible. You will be expected to pay to repair or replace the damaged property.
If any damage is caused by a third party not connected to the tenant, such as a tradesman, then it becomes the owner’s responsibility to repair the property. This can also include damage caused by a burglar or a storm.
Lessors are not able to contract out of their obligations to look after the property or any other legal obligations outlined in the prescribed tenancy agreement. However, unless a tenancy agreement says differently, tenants are responsible for basic household maintenance (such as cleaning floors, replacing light bulbs, cleaning windows, dusting, removing cobwebs inside and outside) and garden maintenance, such as watering, mowing, weeding, pruning and fertilising. Tenants should notify the lessor if they are aware of any potential roof damage caused by blocked gutters.
Normal wear and tear – the LESSOR is liable for:
- Curtains faded from years in the sun.
- Carpet in the hall or other areas has worn because it is used frequently.
- A lock that breaks because it is old and has worn out.
- Paint flakes off because it is old or was not applied properly.
Neglectful damage – the TENANT is liable for:
- Tears in the curtains caused by a pet.
- Stains or burns from things that have been dropped or placed on carpets.
- A lock that was broken when the tenant forgot the key and broke into the house.
- Mould/mildew formed because the tenant didn't properly air the property.
Tenant compensation bonds
If a lessor consistently refuses to reimburse a tenant/s for urgent repairs, the Magistrates Court may, at the time it makes an order for reimbursement of a tenant, also order the lessor to pay a tenant compensation bond to the Bond Administrator to cover future tenant compensation orders.
A tenant can then apply to the court to have all or part of the tenant compensation bond paid to them using an Application for disposal of tenant compensation bond to tenant (Form 15).
Further information is available from the Magistrates Court.
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