Renters and owners have a shared responsibility over the maintenance of a rental property. Renters are responsible for keeping the property in good condition while they are in residence, and owners are responsible for attending to repairs as needed.
Occasionally it can be difficult to know whether or not a repair in the home should be attended to by the renter or the owner. The Residential Tenancies Act aims to help in this regard by distinguishing between urgent and non urgent repairs.
Urgent repairs include items such as a burst water service, blocked or broken toilet (if it is the only toilet in the home), serious roof leaks, gas leaks and dangerous electrical faults. Urgent repairs must be attended to by a owner immediately. However, if the renter caused the damage, the owner may ask them to arrange or pay for the repairs.
‘Renters should always go through their property manager to arrange repairs, because renters run the risk of being overcharged for repairs while property managers have established relationships with trustworthy tradespeople,’ explains Marshall White team leader and property manager, Anthony Wiseman.
Non urgent repairs such as a faulty cabinet door, broken blind or broken dishwasher should be reported to the property manager who will then arrange the repair with the owner within a 14 day period. Some light repairs or general maintenance items can be attended to by the renter themselves, such as replacing lightbulbs, putting out ant traps or removing scuff marks from a wall.
We have recently introduced ‘Marshall White Managed’ – a new system in which renters lodge maintenance requests through an app. It’s advisable that renters include as much information about the issue as possible as well as photos and videos if appropriate, to support their request. This new app is designed to help your property manager and any required tradespeople to identify the problem and a solution as quickly as possible. Through the app, renters can easily keep track of the progress of their maintenance requests.
It can sometimes be confusing for renters to know exactly what they are responsible for in the way of maintenance.
‘Occasionally renters request we organise for light globes or batteries in their remote controls to be changed, which in most cases would be their responsibility,’ Anthony says. ‘However, renters also sometimes believe they’re responsible for things that they aren’t, for example cleaning the gutters or trimming the hedges.’
If a renter is unsure about whether or not a repair is classified as urgent or non urgent, or where the responsibility lies, they should contact their property manager. Avoid attempting to undertake repairs unless you are certain that they fall within the area of non urgent repairs that don’t require professional involvement. A failed repair can bring with it additional problems. For example, if a renter’s attempt to fix a leaking sink damages the sink further, the renter will be required to pay the full cost of a plumber to conduct the repair.