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Can tenants just go and get work done at the property and expect the lessor to pay for the work?
In short the answer is YES - provided that the work is considered an emergency repair under Section 214 of the Residential Tenancies & Rooming Accommodation Act.
If the works required appear to be due to tenants not looking after the property or damaging it, who pays the bill?
Ultimately the best practice approach would be that the lessor pays the contractor as quickly as they can (to avoid your contractor getting upset) and then seeking compensation from the tenants, provided they have sufficient evidence that the works required were to due damage.
The REIQ special terms (of a tenancy agreement) outline some items that the tenants acknowledge that you could use in these types of situations (e.g. the tenant acknowledges they
cannot block any plumbing or drainage at the property).
What if the contractor demands payment from the tenant when the work is complete? If the tenant chooses to pay the contractor direct they have the ability to seek reimbursement from the lessor, to the value of 2 weeks rent (for that tenancy).
If the owner doesn’t pay this amount the tenant could pursue this matter through the Tribunal. Can the owner choose to not getting something fixed whilst the property is tenanted?
Unfortunately, as a property manager, we have to follow the clients instructions and if they decide to not getting something fixed (e.g replace a dishwasher) then we cant go ahead and get it done for them. In saying that, its important to educate the owner of section 185 of the Residential Tenancies & Rooming Accommodation Act and their obligation to maintain the property AND its inclusions throughout a tenancy.
The longer the owner leaves an issue unresolved, the more chance the tenant has of seeking compensation for loss of an inclusion, along with the need to address the actual issue on top of that.