Spontaneous ceiling collapse - Landlords bulletin 48

This publication is for: 
Landlord / lessor

16 September 2020

Spontaneous ceiling collapse 

Imagine the tenant is eating dinner or watching television and suddenly the ceiling caves in. This may sound far-fetched but unfortunately ceiling collapses are not uncommon. They occur for many reasons including storm damage, water leaks, inappropriate use of or access to roof space, substandard materials or poor workmanship.

Warning signs

When carrying out property inspections ensure you are alert to any need for ceiling maintenance and ask the tenant if they've noticed any warning signs. Ignoring the signs that a ceiling is under stress may result in a ceiling collapse.
Warning signs include:
  • a loud cracking sound in the ceiling;
  • a sagging or dropping of the plasterboard sheeting and/or the cornice; and
  • visual cracking 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.

What you can do

At your next inspection conduct a quick scan of ceilings for the warning signs. The Department’s Building and Energy Division has a guide for homeowners who may have concerns about the stability of their ceiling for help. If your property is managed by a real estate agency you can request they do a check at the next routine property inspection.
Remind the tenant that they should report any damage or ceiling stress warning signs. Let them know what to look for, particularly after a storm.
Please remember that as a landlord you must:
  • keep the premises in a reasonable state of repair;
  • comply with building, health and safety laws; and
  • attend to the repairs* in a timely manner, particularly urgent repairs
If a visual inspection indicates possible damage then it is your responsibility to arrange a further inspection. If needed, then arrange for repairs by the builder of your home or another suitable service provider. If you need to locate a repairer, Building and Energy suggest that you may consider contacting the Association of Wall and Ceiling Industries to locate a suitable contractor.
A ceiling collapse can cause serious injury and extensive damage to a room's contents and structure. If you fail to undertake necessary ceiling repairs within a reasonable timeframe you risk being held responsible for personal injury or damage to your tenant's property. Repairing a ceiling costs less than paying for replacement or repairs when it fails, so timely action is important.
*The WA Government’s response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic means during the emergency period landlords do not need to carry out non-urgent repairs if they are experiencing Covid-19 related financial hardship or access to the property is inhibited due to Covid-19 restrictions.

iRentWA app retirement notice

Consumer Protection launched the iRentWA app in 2014 to help tenants and landlords manage their rental arrangements. We have recently retired the app due to high maintenance cost and all information provided in iRentWA being readily available on the Consumer Protection website.

Users with iRentWA currently installed can continue to use the app, but any problems that arise won’t be able to be fixed.

If you are an existing user, we recommend you export and save any reminders and/or photos stored in the app to avoid possible future loss of this data.

Please note the Consumer Protection website continues to be your go-to place for all renting information.

Need some assistance?

For further information about landlord rights and responsibilities in WA contact 1300 304 054 or email consumer@dmirs.wa.gov.au

Consumer Protection
Last updated 16 Sep 2020

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