Urgent repairs in a rental home
Urgent repairs fall into two categories: essential services and other urgent repairs. A suitable repairer must be found within a reasonable timeframe. There are some times when a tenant may need to arrange for the repairer.
What some urgent repairs
Essential services are listed in the Residential Tenancies Regulations 1989 and include repairs to:
- a burst water service,
- gas leaks,
- broken hot water system,
- sewerage leaks or
- dangerous electrical faults.
Other urgent repairs
Other urgent repairs are not an essential service, but if not fixed might cause damage to the premises, injure a person or cause undue hardship or inconvenience to the tenant/s.
Once a tenant notifies the landlord/lessor of the need for an urgent repair, the landlord/lessor must take action to contact a suitable repairer and arrange for them to fix the problem. A suitable repairer is someone who is suitably qualified, trained or licensed to undertake the necessary work, such as a licensed electrician or licensed plumber.
The landlord/lessor has 24 hours to do this if the repair is needed to a defined essential service, and 48 hours for any other urgent repair. The repair does not need to be fixed within this time but the lessor must make an appointment with the repairer to fix the problem.
The landlord/lessor must then ensure the repairs are carried out as soon as practicable after the arrangements have been made.
If a tenant arranges repairs
If the tenant is not able to contact the landlord/lessor within 24 hours for an essential repair and 48 hours for an urgent repair, they can arrange for the repairs to be carried out by a suitably qualified repairer to the minimum extent necessary.
If the landlord/lessor fails to ensure the repairs are carried out as soon as practicable once the tenant has notified them about it, the tenant can arrange for the repairs to be done to the minimum extent necessary. The tenant must also use a suitably qualified repairer.
The landlord/lessor is required to reimburse the tenant for any reasonable expense incurred for the tenant to arrange the repairs to be carried out and paying for those repairs. If the landlord/lessor does not pay the tenant back, the tenant can apply to the Magistrates Court to obtain an order requiring the landlord/lessor to reimburse them. The tenant should keep receipts and a record of contact with the landlord/lessor in case the matter goes to Court.
When a property is declared uninhabitable, a landlord may have to give you seven days notice to leave the premises, please see lessor ending a tenancy for more information.
- a loud cracking sound in the ceiling;
- sagging or dropping of the plasterboard sheeting and/or the cornice; and
- cracks and/or small circles or blisters (nail pops) on the ceiling. These are a sign the plasterboard sheeting may be pulling away from the nails or screws.
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