Both landlords and tenants have responsibilities when it comes to the upkeep and repair of rental properties. So, before you point the finger at tenants and demand money for rental property damages, understand who exactly is responsible for rental property repairs.
First and foremost, landlords should make sure the property is up to standard, taking care of any necessary repairs prior to tenants moving in. For the duration of a tenancy, however, the onus lies with tenants to make a reasonable effort to maintain the cleanliness and function of the property on a day-to-day basis. This includes taking steps to prevent potential issues arising such as cleaning floors to avoid rotting and not leaving food out that will attract an infestation of pests.
Landlords are responsible for all structural maintenance, which includes ceilings, walls, windows and doors. The landlord is also accountable for all emergency repairs. This includes:
- Blocked or broken plumbing
- Hazardous electrical issues
- Gas leaks
- Severe roof leaks
- Storm, fire or flood damage
- Failure of necessary utilities (water, heating, gas, electricity or anything that renders the premises uninhabitable).
In the event of such emergency circumstances, the tenant needs to contact either the landlord or property manager (as stipulated in the Tenancy Agreement). Tenants may also be provided with contact details for specific tradesmen for certain problems. Even if repairers are contacted directly, landlords must still be notified, as they are the ones covering the costs.
If emergency contacts are unable to be reached, tenants can arrange their own repairs to the value of two weeks’ rent. In this case, tenants can either pay out of their own pocket and request reimbursement from the landlord (within a week) or, alternatively, ask the repairer to send the invoice directly to the property manager or landlord.
All other repairs fall under the heading of routine repairs. For this, requests for repairs should be made in writing. Once the request is received, the landlord or property manager will agree on a time when repairs will be made.
If a landlord refuses to take care of the repairs, tenants are entitled to submit a Notice to Remedy Breach, after which a Tribunal may need to intervene. It should be noted that a Tribunal can also be called in if a landlord believes they have been wrongly charged for certain repairs. Regardless of any disputes, however, tenants must still routinely pay rent. Failure to pay rent breaches the Tenancy Agreement which allows landlords to remove non-compliant tenants.
For more information and expert advice on property investment, management and renting, contact K.G. Hurst today.