Rental property repairs: who is responsible?

rental property repairs

Despite laws outlining tenant and landlord responsibilities, rental property repairs can still present a grey area for Perth property owners and their tenants. It is incredibly important for both owners and tenants to know their responsibilities when it comes to their Perth rental property, as this can save significant time and disputes in the long run. But what exactly are landlords responsible for? And when does damage become a tenant’s problem?

Landlord responsibilities

Before tenancy: As an owner, it is your responsibility to ensure your Perth rental property is ‘fit for living’ and in a reasonable state of repair prior to the start of a tenancy. When a new tenant moves in, you must issue them with a property condition report detailing the state of the rental. As well as outlining the current condition of the property, this will provide a useful document should any damage arise throughout the term of the tenancy. It’s also a good idea to outline the tenant’s responsibilities in the Tenancy Agreement, as this could prevent disputes further down the line.

During tenancy: Throughout the tenancy, it is the owner’s responsibility to carry out general maintenance and ensure the property is maintained to a hazard-free standard. Providing damage isn’t caused by the tenant’s actions, landlords and property managers will be responsible for organising rental property repairs.

Emergency repairs vs. routine repairs

Although landlords and their property managers are usually responsible for organising repairs, not all repairs are classified as urgent. Emergency repairs include any faults and/or damage that make the property unsafe or insecure, such as serious electrical faults or gas leaks. Your landlord or property management agency will usually include an emergency contact number in your Tenancy Agreement, and will generally need to arrange for any urgent repairs to be fixed within 24-48 hours. The landlord is also responsible for fixing any damage resulting from general wear and tear (such as small leaks); however, these routine repairs don’t constitute an emergency and may take longer to fix.

Tenant responsibilities

Caring for the property: Whilst landlords are responsible for the general upkeep of the property, it is a tenant’s obligation to care for the Perth rental property and ensure it is kept in a state of cleanliness throughout their tenancy. During this time, tenants are also required to take any reasonable action to prevent maintenance issues. For example, whilst owners are typically responsible for dealing with mould, it is the tenant’s responsibility to ensure the rental property is adequately ventilated in the first place. This kind of prevention can include:

  • General garden maintenance to prevent pests (i.e. weeding and mowing lawn)
  • Keeping appliances clean and using them in the correct manner
  • Dusting fans and air conditioner vents
  • Keeping wet areas free of scum build-up

Reporting damage: Under the Residential Tenancies Act, tenants are obligated to report any damage or maintenance issues to the property owner or their property management agency within a reasonable timeframe. If further damage is incurred as a result of a tenant’s failure to do so, the tenant may become liable for extra repairs.

Neglectful damage vs. fair wear and tear

Although property owners must cover the costs of general wear and tear, there are times when tenants do become responsible for rental property repairs. Tenants must cover the costs of repairs when they themselves have caused the damage. For example, whilst owners are responsible for fixing worn carpets, tenants are responsible if they have spilled something on a carpet and caused a stain. In the case of pet-friendly rentals, tenants will also be responsible for any damaged caused by their pet.

Get the right advice from your property management team

Knowing your responsibilities before the start of a tenancy can save you considerable time and hassle as both an owner and a tenant. Not only will your Perth property managers be able to advise you and your tenant of your responsibilities, they will also help you organise rental property repairs and oversee the day-to-day running of your rental property.

For more information about Rentwest’s property management solutions, or to find out more about your responsibilities as a tenant, visit our tenancy handbook or get in touch with the team at Rentwest via rentals@rentwest.com.au.