A rental property must always be in a suitable state for tenants to live in. While a rental property doesn’t need to be in perfect condition, a landlord must keep it in a reasonable state of repair considering its age and the rent charged. Tenants, too, have a responsibility to keep the property in a state of cleanliness considering the state of the property when the tenancy began.
Occasionally disputes arise, leaving people to wonder, who is responsible for repairs and maintenance of the premises – the landlord or the tenant?
Here is a rundown of some of the things that are commonly contested.
Is pest control the responsibility of a landlord or tenant?
It is a landlord’s responsibility to ensure their rental property meets the standards of health and safety laws. Meanwhile, the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 states that tenants must take reasonable care of and keep the premises reasonably clean.
Generally, a landlord is accountable for pest and vermin issues at the beginning of a tenancy, and a tenant is responsible after they move in.
But of course, there are exceptions.
Say a cockroach infestation is caused by a hole in the wall and not the tenant’s lack of cleanliness. In this case, the tenant may not be held responsible for eradication. However, if the infestation is due to the tenant failing to remove rubbish, then the eradication would likely fall on the tenant.
In the event of a dispute, other factors that could determine who is responsible for pest control on the premises include the history of the property, what is recorded in the condition report, and if there were factors beyond the tenant’s control.
Smoke alarm rules vary across Australia, but generally they must meet Australian Standards. Landlords are obliged to fit their rental property with compliant smoke alarms as defined by the relevant state or territory legislation. Failure to do so can result in penalties.
To find out more about smoke alarm legislation, read Australian smoke alarms regulations and rules for landlords.
Living in a rental property with a beautiful garden can be great, but gardens require maintenance to keep them looking good.
Yard work such as mowing, edging and weeding is usually the responsibility of the tenant, unless the tenancy agreement states otherwise.
Major works such as tree lopping or hedges that require specialist upkeep are normally the responsibility of the landlord.
Outdoor area maintenance arrangements should be listed in the tenancy agreement and noted in the entry and exit condition reports.
The upkeep of plumbing is a frequent point of contention. Essentially, both landlords and tenants play a part in the maintenance of plumbing in a rental property.
It is the landlord’s job to ensure the property’s plumbing is in a safe state and suitable for tenants. And once a tenant has signed the tenancy agreement, it is up to them to take good care of the property and maintain the functional aspects including plumbing.
This means that the tenant should be diligent in preventing issues like blockages by keeping the property clean and not flushing things down drains.
Again, all the requirements around who will take responsibility for the issues that may arise during the tenancy term – and each person’s rights – should be laid out in the Residential Tenancy Agreement.
In the case of an emergency such as a burst water pipe or broken toilet, the landlord should be called to contact a plumber. If the plumber finds the issue was caused by tenant negligence, it would be the tenant’s responsibility to pay for the work.
If the landlord or real estate agent cannot be contacted or can’t attend to any urgent repairs in a suitable timeframe, the tenant can arrange the repairs. It is advisable the tenant doesn’t pay more than $1,000 as the landlord is only required to pay for any reasonable costs up to this amount. The tenant must give the landlord or agent written notice about the repairs, costs and copies of receipts. The landlord is obliged to pay this within 14 days of notice.
BMT’s Rate Finder calculator finds the effective life and depreciable rate of plant and equipment assets for rental properties which can assist with disputes over damaged assets and maintenance and replacement scheduling. Call BMT on 1300 728 726 for more information.