Spontaneous ceiling collapse - Real estate industry bulletin 231

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Property industryLicence holders

16 September 2020

Spontaneous ceiling collapse

Imagine the tenant of a rental property you manage 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 can 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 you notice worrying signs, report your concerns to the lessor as soon as possible. As an agent you must exercise due diligence and skill and act in the best interests of your client.
Remind the tenants that they should report any damage or ceiling stress warning signs. Let them know what to look for, particularly after a storm.
Please remind lessors they need to:
  • keep rental premises in a reasonable state of repair;
  • comply with building, health and safety laws; and
  • attend to repairs* in a timely manner, particularly urgent repairs.
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 contents and structure. Repairing a ceiling costs less than doing nothing and paying for 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.
This means that it’s no longer appropriate to promote the app to users.
If you or your agency currently promote the iRentWA app, please remove any links or references to it. Instead we invite you to promote the Consumer Protection website as the go-to place for all renting information.
For more information, including how to export and save photos and reminders stored in the app, see the updated iRentWA page.

Need some assistance?

For further information about residential tenancies in WA contact 1300 304 054 or email consumer@dmirs.wa.gov.au.


Consumer Protection
Last updated 16 Sep 2020

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