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 In Lifestyle Property Management

What to do in an emergency

Other than a few enquiries and issues related to maintenance and minor fixes, a full term tenancy will be usually, and ideally, uneventful. That’s not to say emergencies never take place. In fact, they are a very real possibility…

Other than a few enquiries and issues related to maintenance and minor fixes, a full term tenancy will be usually, and ideally, uneventful. That’s not to say emergencies never take place. In fact, they are a very real possibility and being informed on how best to cope in an emergency is simply good sense.

In every practical sense, it serves well to know what is classified as an emergency. The first source of information is the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (RTA). ‘The Residential Tenancies Act is fairly clear on what’s regarded as an emergency,’ says Marshall White Property Manager Anthony Wiseman. ‘Burst water services, serious leaks such as roof leaks or gas leaks and dangerous electrical faults are among those listed and can essentially cause premises to be unsafe,’ he explains.

‘We provide tenants with a list of contractors at the commencement of their lease,’ says Anthony on Marshall White’s approach to managing emergencies. ‘Tenants should contact their property manager in the event of an emergency. If it is after hours, our website lists qualified tradespeople who can be contacted directly to assist in an emergency,’ he adds.

If reasonable steps taken to reach recommended contacts prove unsuccessful, it’s advisable to make your own arrangements. Keep a record of your attempts to reach Marshall White contacts and the cost of repair will be reimbursed in due course. However, when hiring tradespeople outside of the recommended contacts, tenants in Victoria should be mindful of the cost of repairs as landlords are only required to reimburse up to $1800 as stipulated in the RTA and costs in excess would have to be borne by the tenant.

Although it’s expected that the repair should be attended to within a 24 hour period, by law landlords are allowed two business days. ‘Sometimes urgent repairs can take longer. For instance, appliance breakdown is considered an urgent repair. However, it may take more than a day or even a week to replace parts,’ explains Anthony. ‘It’s acceptable as long as measures have been taken to expedite the process,’ he adds.

Marshall White also ensures that only licensed and insured tradespeople capable of meeting the demands of the job are contracted. ‘It’s not handyman work. Especially with electrical or plumbing work which could lead to further damage and make the premises unsafe – that would obviously be a real concern,’ says Anthony.

Tenants are also responsible for keeping emergencies at bay.

‘While it’s up to the landlord and our tradespeople to ensure that the property is in good repair, it’s also up to the tenant to maintain the premises and avoid actions that could cause damage,’ says Anthony, and notes as an example, blocked drains which result from attempting to dispose of unsuitable items leading to flooding of the premises.

‘In such instances tenants would have to bear the cost of repair,’ he adds.

One of the more commonplace emergencies that tenants experience is being locked out of their premises. To manage such an eventuality Marshall White retains a spare set of keys for emergency access and recommends that tenants make their own arrangements in relation to the location of a spare key. This could serve well in the event of an emergency after hours where relevant persons may not be immediately available.

It’s only prudent to be aware of what does not constitute an emergency to avoid disputes and misunderstandings. Essentially, repairs that fall outside the list of urgent repairs such as general maintenance issues that don’t pose any immediate threat are classified as non emergencies. Regardless, a reasonably prompt response is desirable and standard procedure involves making a written request to the agent or landlord. Both parties should also maintain a record of the exchange for future reference.

‘It’s very important that all maintenance is reported in writing, even a handwritten note, as having that documented whether it’s a minor or major request is important. What’s more, maintenance issues should be reported in a timely manner,’ stresses Anthony.

If you need any further assistance or have any questions, please contact our Marshall White Property Management Team (03) 9822 8711.

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