Natural Disasters – what you need to know

In recent years, Australia has seen unprecedented floods and fires ravage communities all across the country. While devastating, these natural disasters have provided a wake-up call to many property owners and landlords. If you’re unsure of your obligations in the wake of a natural disaster, here’s a quick overview.

  • If a property is damaged to the point it is unlivable, a tenancy can be ended. This can be carried out by either the tenant or landlord, but must be done legally (i.e. by completing a notice of intention to immediately end the lease).
  • It’s within your tenant’s rights to negotiate a rent reduction where the premise has been partly damaged in a natural disaster. Both parties must negotiate the exact details.
  • It’s important to quickly establish what damage has been caused by the natural disaster. Liaise with your tenants (through your property manager) to make a list of areas that have been affected.
  • Any damage to the property must be promptly taken care of. Life threatening damage should be fixed immediately, while less serious damage needs to be fixed within 14 days.
  • One of the most important things you need to do is check your insurance coverage. It’s vitally important that anyone who owns a property knows, and fully understands, the details of their policy. Recent reports have shown that many insurance policies don’t cover flooding as standard, yet they will cover water damage caused by storms. The terminology used can be tricky so it’s best to get some clarification about what is and isn’t covered. 

The smart thing to do is familiarise yourself with your responsibilities and do a little checking, now. You could save yourself some big headaches in the future.