Repairs and maintenance
Directions for landlords and tenants in relation to arranging repairs and maintenance during COVID-19 is available on the CBS website
Landlords and tenants share the responsibility for repairs and maintenance in rental properties. Tenants need to ask the landlord to fix the problem. Landlords must then attend to the repair within a reasonable time frame.
Landlords usually take care of consumables, such as replace blown light globes and tap filters. Extensive gardening work such as pruning fruit trees is also done by the landlord.
Tenants usually care for items, such as cleaning air conditioner filters - if instructions are given - and general gardening work, such as mowing and weeding.
Landlords are responsible for repairs even if a tenant knew about a problem when they moved in. Items noted in the tenancy agreement as excluded, or serious structural issues listed in a housing improvement notice, aren't required to be fixed by the landlord.
Advising the landlord
Tenants need to ask the landlord to fix the problem. This should be done in writing - a request for repairs form can be used.
Urgent repairs, such as a burst water pipe or gas leak , should be reported to the landlord as soon as possible.
Landlord's notice to enter
A landlord can enter the property to carry out the repair at the tenant’s request, or after giving at least 48 hours’ notice – written notice is best. No notice is required to enter for urgent repairs.
A landlord could be breaking the conditions of an agreement if they are aware of a problem and don't repair it within a reasonable time.
Landlord refuses to repair
If a landlord refuses to fix something after being asked, the tenant can:
- `apply to SACAT for:
- the repairs to be carried out
- compensation related to losses resulting from the non-repair
- to end the tenancy
- organise to have urgent problems fixed and give the landlord an invoice from an authorised repairer. A licensed professional must:
- carry out the repairs
- provide a report stating the cause of the problem and the work carried out.
Damage caused by the tenant
Tenants are responsible to repair damage they caused at the property. This includes damage caused:
- intentionally or through neglect
- by visitors or other people living at the property.
A tenant should report this damage to the landlord and repair it within a reasonable time.
If the landlord offers to repair the damage and the tenant agrees, the landlord can charge the tenant $26.48 an hour for time spent to repair, plus the cost of any materials purchased.
If this damage isn’t repaired, a landlord can issue a notice to the tenant (238.7 KB PDF) asking them to fix the problem or the lease agreement will end.
Landlords maintain domestic appliances, such as an oven, air conditioner or gas heater.
At the start of an agreement a landlord must list the appliances on the lease and provide the tenant with manufacturers’ manuals or instructions on how to use them. If this isn’t done, a tenant can’t be held responsible for repairing damage caused while using the appliance.
A tenant can't alter or add to a property without the landlord's written consent. Landlords must have a good reason to refuse permission for a tenant to connect a service, such as digital TV and internet access.
Anything added must be removed at the end of the tenancy, unless the landlord agrees for it to remain.
Tenants are responsible to repair or pay for the repair of any damage caused by the removal.
Locks and keys
Landlords need to make sure the property is secure and fix things, such as a lock that sticks.
Tenants and landlords need to agree to a lock being changed or removed. Neither can refuse the change without good reason.
Tenants who lose keys will need to pay for the cost of gaining access or having a new key cut.
The tenant can collect a spare key from the landlord as long as it’s reasonable to do so. A fee can’t be charged for the temporary use of a key.
The landlord can charge reasonable expenses if they are prepared to attend the property to provide the access. Details of any potential fee should be included as a condition in the agreement.
Pests and vermin
Infestation at start of tenancy - landlords are usually responsible for getting rid of the following pests:
- bees and wasps - and during the tenancy if in a wall cavity
- cockroaches, fleas and spiders
- mice and rats
- snakes - and during the tenancy only if the landlord breaches the agreement, for example by leaving piles of rubbish in the garden.
Infestation during the tenancy - tenants are usually responsible for getting rid of the pest and landlords need to seal off any entry points.
Pests that are the responsibility of the landlord:
- white ants
- possums - remove and seal entry points
- birds - remove and seal entry points.
All rental properties must have a working smoke alarm installed. More than one smoke alarm could be needed to provide enough warning.
Landlords should check that smoke alarms are working during routine inspections.