Urgent repairs to rental properties

It is an owner’s responsibility to ensure a rental property is maintained in good repair at all times during a tenancy. There are different rules for:

  • general
  • urgent and
  • emergency repairs.

An owner must have ‘urgent repairs’ done as soon as possible after a tenant tells them about the issue.

Urgent repairs are when an ‘essential service’ stops working, which is any of the following:

  • water
  • sewerage
  • removal of waste water from kitchen, bathrooms and laundries
  • the supply of electricity
  • heating
  • cooking stove
  • hot water service.

‘Stops working’ means:

  • water: the water service no longer supplies to or removes from the property the same amount of water that it would be capable of supplying or removing if it were fully functional
  • electricity: all power points or wires between the walls or in the ceiling of the property are no longer safe or no  longer supply electricity (except where they were noted on the ingoing condition report as not working)
  • electricity: the electricity-generating device no longer safely produces and supplies electricity to the same level that it ought to reasonably produce and supply
  • heating: the heater no longer provides heat the same level that it was reasonably capable of providing when it was made
  • cooking: at least half of the heating elements of the stove, or the oven, no longer function safely
  • hot water: the same amount of hot water at the same temperature is no longer provided by the hot water service as when it was manufactured
  • grey water: if all water at the property required to be removed or treated is no longer able to be safely removed or safely treated within a timeframe that it should be able to remove or treat water if it were fully functioning.

If the owner cannot be contacted within 24 hours, a tenant can arrange for a nominated repairer to do the works, and to invoice the owner.

If an owner expects to be away or uncontactable, they should give the tenant the name of a person to contact if an urgent repair is needed, called a ‘nominated repairer’. These are also often named in the lease.

If the owner has not nominated a repairer, or the nominated repairer is not available, the tenant can have a suitably qualified person do the repairs (a ‘suitable repairer’). In this case, the tenant must pay the repairer and have the owner reimburse them. See Reimbursement of cost of repairs.