Maintenance and repairs: who’s responsible?

One of the most common questions that often arises when it comes to leasing an investment property is who is responsible for property repairs and maintenance?

Damage caused by general wear and tear on a property is the responsibility of the landlord. If it’s not wear and tear, regulations throughout Australia clearly state that responsibility lies with the party that caused the damage. The landlord is not under obligation to fix everything and there is a set of guidelines that addresses what needs to be fixed within a certain timeframe and what can be repaired at the landlord’s discretion. Urgent problems should be fixed within 24 – 48 hours. A landlord has up to 14 days to carry out non-urgent repairs.

General wear and tear includes:

– Anything inside or outside the investment property.
– Plumbing, as long as the issue is not the fault of the tenant.
– Damaged or stained flooring and carpet, unless the damage is caused by the tenant.
– Weather damage that is caused by a natural occurrence.
– Vandalism.
– Damage caused by pests and vermin, unless the pests and vermin are a result of the tenants not keeping the property neat and tidy.

What is the tenant responsible for?

If a tenant has caused damage to the property, whether accidentally or by trying to fix something, then they are responsible for any repairs. Likewise, if they try to install anything or alter the property in any way, they are responsible for returning the property to its original state.
Gardens are also the responsibility of the tenant.

Grey areas

There are areas that can come under dispute when determining who is responsible for repairs and maintenance.
These areas include:

  • Mould- If mould appears because of a leak not caused by the tenant, then the landlord is responsible.
  • Smoke alarms- It is compulsory in every state in Australia for smoke alarms to be installed in rental properties. The landlord should change the smoke alarm batteries between tenants.
  • Swimming pools- It is up to the tenants to keep the swimming pool clean. They may also be responsible for cleaning pumps and filters. To ensure this happens, it must be clearly stated in the lease agreement.

When it comes to leasing investment properties, landlords should always ensure they have insurance to cover any damage caused by tenants, and that thorough property inspection reports are available should any disputes arise. Outlining landlord and tenant responsibilities in the lease agreement can go a long way in preventing maintenance disputes.