23 Apr What is an emergency repair?
A recent Honest Broker post looked at the concept of ‘fair wear and tear’. Today we’re going to tackle the opposite end of the spectrum – emergency repairs. Fortunately, state legislation provides clear definitions and guidelines as to what constitutes an emergency repair and what should be done to deal with it.
What is an emergency repair?
This is the basic list of items deemed to be an emergency repair that apply to all states. If the issue does not appear on this list, then the rules for routine repairs and maintenance apply:
- a burst water service or a serious water service leak
- a blocked or broken lavatory system or fittings (only if it is the only toilet fitted)
- a serious roof leak
- a gas leak
- a dangerous electrical fault
- flooding or serious flood damage
- serious storm, fire or impact damage
- a failure or breakdown of the gas, electricity or water supply to the premises
- a failure or breakdown of an essential service or appliance on premises for hot water, cooking or heating (the appliance must be one supplied by the landlord; note one broken hotplate in four on a stove is NOT an emergency repair)
- a fault or damage that makes premises unsafe or unsecure
- a fault or damage likely to injure a person, damage property or unduly inconvenience a tenant of the premises
- a serious fault in any staircase, lift or other common area which inhibits or unduly inconveniences residents in gaining access to or using the premises
What action must be taken?
The tenant must make reasonable steps to report the issue to the landlord/property manager. The landlord must then take immediate steps to have the issue repaired. If the property is uninhabitable, alternative accommodation or some form of compensation may be required to be funded by the landlord.
If the tenant cannot contact the landlord/property manager, they can then take steps to organise a repair. If preferred tradespeople are stated on the lease, the tenant should contact these first. If they are not available, the tenant can source alternative suppliers.
If the tenant is organising the repairs themselves, the general rule is that the repairs have a maximum value of two weeks’ rent. If the repairs are likely to cost more than this, they should not proceed until the landlord/property manager can be contacted.
Any costs incurred by the tenant in organising the repairs need to be reimbursed. This should be done within 7 days of the cost being incurred. Of course, the tenants must provide the relevant invoices.
Ensure the tenancy agreement has specific instructions for the tenant including the out of hours contact details for the landlord/property manager and the list of preferred tradespeople.
Also provide the list of items deemed as an emergency repair and instructions for the tenant on what to do if such a situation arises.
Maintain the property in good order to avoid the likelihood of emergency breakdowns.
Related information can be found in previous Honest Broker posts