Reporting maintenance

07-Jul-2014

This explains the law in NSW about repairs and maintenance for rented premises.

The landlord’s obligations:-

Under the terms of the standard residential tenancy agreement, the landlord agrees:

  • to ensure the premises are ‘reasonably’ clean and fit to live in when you first move in
  • to keep the premises in ‘reasonable’ repair, having regard to the age of the premises, the amount of rent you pay and the prospective life of the premises.
  • The landlord cannot avoid their obligation to keep the premises in reasonable repair simply because they notified you that the premises were in a state of disrepair at the start of your tenancy.
  • The landlord is not in breach of their obligation to keep the premises in reasonable repair if the state of disrepair is caused by you breaching the tenancy agreement.
  • Talk to your local Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service (TAAS) about repairs and the landlord’s need to mitigate loss if you are at fault.

Your obligations

Under the terms of the standard residential tenancy agreement, you agree:

  • to keep the premises ‘reasonably’ clean
  • to tell the landlord about any damage to the premises as soon as possible
  • to leave the premises as nearly as possible in the same condition to when they were let to you, except for fair wear and tear
  • not to damage or let anyone damage the premises deliberately or negligently – you are responsible for damage by anyone on the premises with your consent
  • not to add or remove any fixtures or do any renovations, alterations or additions to the premises without the landlord’s written consent (unless permitted under the tenancy agreement).
  • If you do not meet these obligations, the landlord may apply to the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal (CTTT) for order/s that you comply with the tenancy agreement, to end your tenancy or for compensation.

Urgent repairs

Urgent repairs means any work needed to repair any of the following:

  • a burst water service
  • a broken or malfunctioning appliance, fitting or fixture causing a substantial waste of water
  • a blocked or broken toilet
  • a serious roof leak
  • a gas leak
  • a dangerous electrical fault
  • flooding or serious flood damage
  • serious storm or fire damage
  • a failure or breakdown of the gas, electricity or water supply
  • a failure or breakdown of any essential service for hot water, cooking, heating, cooling or laundering
  • any fault or damage that makes the premises unsafe or insecure.

Getting urgent repairs done

Notify the landlord/agent – in writing if possible – about what needs fixing. Follow up any conversations with a letter. Keep a copy of the letter and a record of any conversations as evidence that you have notified the landlord/agent.

If the landlord/agent cannot be contacted or is unwilling to do the urgent repairs, you can arrange for them to be done. However, you must be able to show that:

  • the problem was not your fault
  • you have made a ‘reasonable’ attempt to contact the landlord/agent
  • you have given the landlord/agent a ‘reasonable’ opportunity to do the repairs
  • the repairs are carried out by a repair person named in your tenancy agreement (if possible) or by a licensed or qualified tradesperson.

You must give the landlord/agent written notice detailing the repairs, costs and copies of receipts. The landlord must pay you for any reasonable costs you incurred up to $1000 within 14 days of your notice.

If the landlord does not pay, you can apply to the CTTT within 3 months for an order that they do so.

If you cannot afford to pay for urgent repairs, apply to the CTTT for an urgent hearing for the repairs to be done. You may apply to the CTTT for a rent reduction until the repairs are done (see below).

‘Non-urgent’ repairs

Notify the landlord/agent in writing about what needs fixing and by when – give a clear deadline. Keep a copy of the letter and a record of any conversations as evidence that you have notified them.

If you are dealing with a real estate agent, you can also:

  • write details of the problem in the agency’s complaint book
  • contact the principal of the agency
  • contact your landlord directly.
  • Undertaking non-urgent repairs yourself
  • You must have the landlord’s prior consent before undertaking non-urgent repairs. Ask the landlord to pay you back for any costs. Get their consent and agreement to pay in writing.