Property maintenance issues are one of the most common worries landlords have – and the most common source of disputes.
But they don’t have to be a headache if you understand who is responsible and what your options are.
Who’s responsible for the day-to-day maintenance inside the property?
Your tenant will generally be responsible for any basic maintenance around the property. This includes such things as changing light globes, cleaning and vacuuming.
However, as the landlord, you’re responsible for several things too. This includes making sure the property is clean and in a reasonable state of repair when the tenant begins their lease. You’re also responsible for the property’s upkeep, including things like air conditioning, hot water system and stove, as well as for any other fixtures and chattels you provide.
This includes, for instance, the carpet and any whitegoods you include with the rental. If the property has a swimming pool, you’re also generally responsible for repairing it.
Who’s responsible for water leaks and plumbing?
The plumbing counts as property upkeep too, which usually means it’s your responsibility as the landlord. For instance, recently, we’ve had several issues with plumbing – such as flexi-pipe bursting – which the landlord has had to take responsibility for.
If your tenant notices a water leak, they must tell you about it. If they don’t, and it gets worse, they may have to pay the cost of any damage.
The moment a tenant tells you about a leak, it becomes your responsibility but you can’t hold a tenant liable for hidden water leaks.
As a general rule, you’re also responsible for any mould that grows in the house. However, your tenant must make sure they ventilate the home properly and don’t cause it.
Who’s responsible for maintaining the garden or yard?
The rules here tend to be similar to the ones that regulate the inside of the home: your tenant is responsible for the day-to-day maintenance and you’re responsible for more long-term factors.
That means, for instance, your tenant usually has to mow the lawn and look after the garden unless you agree otherwise. But you have to provide them with the tools they need – such as a hose – and you can’t usually expect them to do more than weeding and light pruning.
As a landlord, you’re responsible for removing limbs from trees or lopping them. You’re also responsible for looking after any irrigation system you’ve installed but you should always make sure your tenant has access to it, so they can adjust it when they need to.
What about where the repair is urgent?
Your tenant needs to tell you as soon as possible when your property needs urgent repairs. This includes any repairs that could expose the property to damage or expose someone to the risk of injury, as well as any repairs that will cause your tenant to suffer undue hardship or inconvenience.
This also includes repairs to essential services, such as gas, electricity, sewerage and water.
You then have 24 hours to arrange someone to repair an essential service or 48 hours where it’s urgent but not essential.
If a tenant can’t get hold of you or you don’t act within these timeframes, they can arrange a qualified tradesperson to repair it but only to the minimum standard needed. You’ll have to then reimburse them.
When a repair isn’t urgent, the tenant needs to let you know about it in writing and you have to act within a reasonable timeframe.
Avoiding common issues and disputes
Disputes between landlords and tenants often arise out of maintenance issues.
That means one of the most important steps you can take is to let your tenant know their rights and responsibilities upfront. You should also take the time to provide a detailed property condition report at the start of a new tenancy so that the state of the property is documented beforehand and both of you know where you stand.
After that, make sure the lines of communication stay open so that you’re aware of any small issues before they become big ones and that your tenant feels comfortable raising them.
A good property manager can help you with each of these steps and can act as a knowledgeable guide through common issues. This can help save real money in the long run.
Contact our experienced team of property managers today if you need help managing maintenance issues in your Perth rental property.