You can rent for years and never encounter any problems. However, a number of issues can cause a renter to wonder about their legal rights as tenants in Victoria. One of the key problems that many tenants (and landlords) face is confusion around who pays for rental property repairs and maintenance.
It is not always clear-cut whose responsibility it is to conduct repairs on the property. What if the tenant has broken something? What if something needs repairing but it was already not working when you moved in?
Australian law differs from state to state in regard to residential leasing. Property law is a complex area, but the common issues below should have you covered if you encounter rental property repairs and maintenance issues.
The landlord is responsible for maintaining the premises in good, working order. However, if it was the tenant’s activity that caused damage to the property, the landlord can request that the tenant pay for the repairs.
Landlords must legally respond to urgent repairs immediately. Urgent rental property repairs include a burst water service, a blocked or broken toilet, serious roof leaks, gas leaks, and a number of other issues. Determine whether your repairs are urgent by checking out the handbook that you received as a tenant.
Recovering costs for rental property repairs
If your landlord does not respond immediately, you can authorise the repair, as long as it doesn’t exceed $1,800. Keep a receipt of the transaction, as well as the evidence to show that you made reasonable attempts at contacting the landlord. You can then issue the landlord with a notice to pay back the costs of the repairs within 14 days.
Rental property repairs disputes
If the landlord refuses to pay for the repairs, or the repairs exceed $1,800, you may have to consider going to VCAT (Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal). If you have a dispute about repairs or are waiting for repairs to your residence, you do still have to pay the full amount of rent.
If you need to move out of your home while repairs are being carried out, the landlord is under no legal obligation to compensate you. You should discuss options for negotiated rent or compensation, and ensure any agreements reached are put in writing.
If you feel that you should be compensated, but you can’t reach an agreement with your landlord, you can apply to VCAT for compensation.
If the house that you live in isn’t habitable, there are provisions for tenants to end their lease early with no fees or ongoing rental payments.
Get Property Law Help Now!
Ask a free legal question in the Property Law Forum.
Get legal advice from an Australian Property Lawyer near you.