A recap on handling rental repairs
Regardless of the age of a rental property, there will be the need for occasional repairs, some of which are the responsibility of the landlord, and some which might fall under the purview of the tenant.
Occasionally a repair might also be urgent, but ultimately any repair is about keeping a property in good condition, while maintaining its appeal and protecting its value.
So let’s walk through a quick recap on rental property repairs, who’s responsible and how they should be handled.
Although the wording varies a little depending on the state or territory legislation your property falls under, the responsibility for rental repairs generally works like this…
The landlord has a responsibility to conduct any repairs required to ensure the property remains fit to live in structurally, while the tenant is responsible for paying for any repairs required to remedy damage they have caused to a property.
And here’s a bit of an example…
Tenants Joanie and Johnny have noticed the flywire on the screen door of their rental property has aged, and now it has torn and come out of the door frame. As this is wear and tear due to the property ageing, it likely makes it the landlord’s responsibility to fix.
If however, Joanie and Johnny’s puppy chewed through that flywire, causing it to tear and come out of the doorframe, that falls under their responsibility to pay for the flywire to be fixed.
Two types of repairs
There are two types of repairs when it comes to rental properties: routine and emergency.
A routine repair is one that needs to be tended to in a timely manner. It might include repairs like fixing lifting decking, or remedying a sticking door.
An emergency repair is one that needs to occur urgently to ensure a property is safe and provides access to utilities like hot water, electricity, cooking facilities etc.
Gas leaks, burst water pipes, serious water leaks, serious storm damage, dangerous electrical faults, or the breakdown of an essential service like hot water are among the potential problems that fall under the category of emergency repairs.
How repairs are handled
Under state and territory laws, the tenant has an obligation to notify their property manager of any repairs that are needed at a property.
This is to ensure minor problems don’t turn into major issues, and it’s in the tenant’s interest to ensure they flag any items that need to be fixed.
If it turns out a minor problem, like a slow water leak turns into a major issue, such as walls requiring repairs, the tenant could potentially be liable for some of the repair costs for that damage.
Meanwhile, your property manager will set out how they should be notified of any repairs. You can find this information in your lease agreement, and repair requests are usually made in writing via a form on their website or an email to a set address.
The landlord is then notified of the request for a routine repair, and depending on what it is, will give the go-ahead for the property manager to proceed with that repair in a timely manner. Bear in mind timeframes vary depending on the nature of the repair and the availability of tradespeople.
In the case of an emergency repair, things need to happen more quickly. In this instance the tenant is best to pick up the phone and call, and most agencies have an emergency number they can contact if an urgent issue arises outside of office hours.
This notification should also be put in writing as a record.
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