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The landlord is generally responsible for any repairs or maintenance to the premises that are needed during the tenancy. The tenant should notify the landlord as soon as possible if repairs are necessary. The tenant can also arrange for emergency repairs themselves if required.
This guide covers landlords (or head-tenants) and tenants (or sub-tenants) in a Residential Tenancy. This applies to the majority of share accommodation and residential property rental situations. To confirm it covers your situation visit What is my share accommodation situation?
Who is responsible for repairs and maintenance?
The landlord is under a general obligation to both provide and maintain the rented premises in a good state of repair and fit to live in. When repairs are required to maintain the premises, they are generally known as ‘routine repairs’.
If the tenant is aware that the premises or inclusions have been damaged or require maintenance, the tenant must notify the landlord as soon as possible.
There are a number of important things to remember about the landlord’s obligation:
- the obligation applies to providing the premises in a good state of repair - this means that the landlord must conduct repairs to any defect that would be noticeable on inspection by the landlord at the beginning of the tenancy.
- the obligation also applies to maintaining the premises in a good state of repair - this means that the landlord must conduct repairs to any defects which they are notified of by the tenant during the tenancy. Once notified by the tenant, the landlord must carry out the repairs within a reasonable period - this is measured by the nature nature of the repairs, their cost, and their urgency.
- reasonable state of repair is not just about safety, but also requires that the premises be fit for use as a residence by the tenant. Good practice is for the landlord to keep the premises in the same or a better state of repair than it was in at the beginning of the tenancy. This applies to all parts of the premises let to the tenant.
- the landlord is not responsible for disrepair to the property caused by the tenant.
- the landlord is generally responsible for structural repairs to the premises such as repairing roofs, walls, doors, floors, or utility services like water or electricity supply.
- the tenant is generally responsible for repairs to consumable products such as washers, globes, and batteries.
- the premises must be safe for use as a premises by the tenant, i.e. there must not be anything in the premises that might pose danger of illness or injury to the tenant.
Who can conduct Emergency Repairs?
Emergency repairs is work to repair the following: burst water service or serious water leak, blocked/broken lavatory, serious roof leak, gas leak, dangerous electrical fault, flooding/serious flood damage, breakdown of gas/electricity/water supply, breakdown of hot water, cooking or heating services/appliances, faults or damage making the premises unsafe or insecure, any fault or damage likely to injure a person, damage property or inconvenience the tenant, and a serious fault in a common area like a stairwell.
Nominated Repairer for Emergency Repairs
The landlord can nominate a person—the ‘nominated repairer’—to conduct or arrange emergency repairs to the premises or inclusions. It is recommended that the landlord do this. The landlord can nominate the person in the residential tenancy agreement, or by a separate written notice given to the tenant. The notice should state whether the emergency repairer or the landlord is the first point of contact if emergency repairs are required
Tenant to give Notice of Damage to Landlord or Emergency Repairer
When the tenant is aware that the premises requires emergency repairs, they must notify either the landlord or the emergency repairer, depending on the situation.
When the tenant must give the landlord notice:
- there is no nominated repairer
- the nominated repairer is not the first point of contact
- if the tenant has not been able to contact the nominated repairer, even though they are the first point of contact
When the tenant must give the nominated repairer notice:
- the nominated repairer is the first point of contact
- if the landlord cannot be contacted even though the emergency repairer is not the first point of contact
After being notified, the landlord or nominated repairer must carry out the Emergency Repairs as soon as possible.
See below for what the tenant should do if they cannot contact the landlord or nominated repairer.
When the Tenant can Arrange own Emergency Repairs
The tenant can arrange for a qualified person to make Emergency Repairs or apply to the Tribunal for an order for Emergency Repairs if:
- the tenant has not been able to notify the landlord or nominated repairer, or
- the emergency repairs have not been made within a reasonable time
The maximum amount that the tenant can incur for emergency repairs is the equivalent of 2 weeks’ rent. The tenant can require the landlord to reimburse either the tenant or the repairer for the cost of the Emergency Repairs.
The tenant must do 3 things to require the landlord to make a reimbursement:
- give the landlord a written notice for reimbursement
- provide documents like invoices, accounts and receipts for the repairs with the written notice
- state in the notice that the tenant can apply to the Tribunal for reimbursement if the landlord does not make the payment within 7 days of receiving the notice
Resolving Problems about Emergency Repairs
If a problem or dispute arises with reimbursement for Emergency Repairs, the first step should be to discuss the problem and come to an agreed resolution. If this does not work, then either the landlord or tenant can apply to the Tribunal for an order to resolve the problem.