IMPORTANT changes to rental laws during COVID-19 (coronavirus) emergency period
New laws have commenced which affect tenants, property owners and agents. Read about the COVID-19 Disease (Emergency Provisions) Act 2020 and the changes to:
If the property you are renting needs repairing, contact the owner or agent straight away. It is a good idea to confirm any contact in writing.
If a repairer comes to the property and fixes the repair, but you notice it isn’t fixed properly, contact the owner or agent to let them know.
If nothing seems to be getting organised about the repair, it is a good idea to contact the owner again to confirm the repairs are being organised.
Time the owner has to complete repairs
An owner has a certain amount of time to complete repairs after a tenant has notified them depending on what work needs doing. For information on the different timeframes see:
If nothing happens with the repairs within the required timeframe, a tenant can:
- terminate their lease (see ending a lease)
- request an Order for repairs
Order for repairs
The Residential Tenancy Commissioner (the Commissioner) can issue an Order for repairs relating to a residential tenancy. (see s.36A of the Residential Tenancy Act 1997)
Before applying for an Order
- You (the tenant) can issue the property owner or agent with a request for repairs to be undertaken. Allow the required time period to pass.
- If the repairs are not completed within the required timeframe, you can apply to the Commissioner for an Order to have the repairs completed.
Tenants should see this as a last resort. It is best to maintain a positive relationship between you and the property owner or agent. The best way to do this is to talk to the property owner or agent and give them the chance to address your concerns.
Applying for an Order
If you believe reasonable repairs have not been undertaken and you would like an Order, complete a Request for an Order for Repair form (PDF, 107.7 KB).
The Commissioner will also need any further information or evidence supporting your claim. For example, include a copy of:
- your lease agreement (if you have one)
- your ingoing condition report (if you have one)
- any written communication between you and the owner or agent in relation to the repairs
- photographs (if applicable).
Provide details of conversations between you and the property owner or agent. Include as much detail as possible.
The Commissioner will contact the property owner or agent with this information and allow them an opportunity to respond to the application. All information will help the Commissioner assess whether to make an Order.
Once the Commissioner makes a decision, either party has 60 days to lodge an appeal with the Magistrates Court of Tasmania.
What the Commissioner looks at when considering an application for an Order
Is the owner required by the Act to carry out this repair?
The Act requires an owner to maintain the premises (as near as possible) to the same condition that existed on the first day of the agreement. This does not include reasonable wear and tear. ( see s.32(1) of the Residential Tenancy Act 1997)
An owner is not required to fix something that was obviously damaged or broken at the start of the tenancy, unless it was agreed this item worked or was going to be fixed by the owner.
Has the owner been advised and given time to carry out the repair?
- an owner has 28 days to carry out a general repair
- 14 days to repair heating elements on stoves
- the owner should respond within 24 hours if the repair is urgent or an emergency
You (the tenant) can apply for an Order before the time limits have expired. However the Commissioner is likely to factor the time limits when making the decision or even delay issuing an Order to provide the owner with the full time period allowed.
Is the need for repair “reasonable”?
The Commissioner considers factors such as the loss of amenity or the impact the need for repair has on the tenant.
Is the need for repair due to the fault of the tenant?
The Commissioner will consider if there is a disagreement relating to how the need for the repairs occurred.
The Commissioner will always consider the specific circumstances of the application and will work to maintain, as far as possible, a constructive relationship between the property owner and the tenant.
Can a tenant issue a notice to terminate?
At any point in this process, you may choose to issue a notice to terminate the agreement, if 28 days has lapsed since notifying the need for repairs.