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5 maintenance tips for landlords

08/02/2022

How to make sure your property is up to scratch.

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When leasing a property in Australia, the responsibility is on owners to make sure the property meets the standards of their State's Tenancies Act and properties should be fit for habitation and in a state of reasonable repair[i].

A tenant should be provided with premises that are rented to them in a reasonable state of cleanliness and fit to live in, which is why it may be ideal for landlords to schedule maintenance and repairs right before the tenancy begins[ii].

We recommend landlords make sure the locks are intact, and doors are secure[iii]. The tenant must look after the property by keeping it clean and free from damage; however, the landlord should also expect "fair wear and tear", which is normal deterioration from daily use[iv].

1. Help, it's an emergency!

A tenant must notify the landlord or managing agent of the need for an emergency repair. If they cannot be contacted, the tenant can contact a nominated repairer, depending on the state regulations that apply, who may be listed on the tenancy agreement[v].

As a landlord or managing agent, it is important that nominated repairers - such as plumbers, electricians, locksmiths, glaziers, appliance repair people and general handypersons - are available and known to the tenant, in the event of an emergency. These details should also be provided to your property manager.

Emergency situations that might require nominated repairers include:

  • A serious water leak
  • A blocked toilet
  • A serious roof leak
  • A gas leak
  • A dangerous electrical fault
  • Serious flood damage
  • Serious storm, fire or impact damage
  • Breakdown of the gas, electricity or water supply
  • No hot water, cooking or heating
  • Any damage that makes the property unsafe or insecure
  • Damage which could injure a person
  • A serious fault in a staircase or lift that restricts a tenant from gaining access[v].

2. Drains and gutters

If a drain or gutter becomes blocked it is usually the landlord's responsibility to clear and/or repair. If a blockage has been caused by something a tenant has done, the tenant may be liable for the cost of repairs. The responsibilities for tenants and landlords which are required by law may vary in each state.

If a landlord is responsible for all the maintenance or upkeep of the structure of the property there is a good argument that this includes a responsibility to maintain gutters and drains.

It is important that both the tenant and landlord are aware of their responsibilities and a list of who is responsible for what maintenance should be included in any rental agreement.

3. Smoke detectors

The landlord must install smoke alarms and test and replace flat batteries within 30 days before the tenancy begins[vi]. The tenant is advised to test and clean each alarm every year and replace the batteries.

4. Pests

The property should be in a clean and safe state when the lease is signed, so look for signs of pest droppings and mention these in the property condition report that is completed at the start of a new tenancy agreement. Who pays for pest control depends on when the infestation occurred.

If pests move in because of a tenant's uncleanliness, the tenant may be liable to the landlord. As a landlord, you or your property agent should check if the previous tenants had cats or dogs, as fleas may not appear for a couple of months. In NSW, the landlord pays to remove possums, termites, and birds[vii].

5. Who mows the lawn?

Tenants may be required to look after mowing, edging and weeding, but this should be specified in the tenancy agreement[viii]. Any plants, hedges or lawns that need specialist upkeep - and tree lopping - are the landlord's responsibility.

The tenant is not responsible if plants or lawns die due to compliance with any government imposed water restrictions. The state of lawns and gardens should be included on the property condition report and maintained to the same standard by the party specified in the tenancy agreement.

Tenancy laws can differ in each state, so check the Residential Tenancies legislation applicable to the state your property is located in.

To find out more about protecting your investment property, visit www.newcastlepermanent.com.au/insurance.



[i] Tenants' Rights Manual, State Library New South Wales, Information about the law in NSW: Health and safety https://legalanswers.sl.nsw.gov.au/tenants-rights-manual-practical-guide-renting-nsw/about-residential-tenancies-act, viewed on February 8, 2022

[ii]Tenants Union of NSW, Residential Tenancies Act, Factsheet 01
https://files.tenants.org.au/factsheets/fs01.pdf#page=1, viewed on February 8, 2022

[iii] Government of Western Australia, Department of Commerce, Rental property security standards,
http://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/consumer-protection/rental-property-security-standards
, viewed on February 8, 2022

[iv] NSW Fair Trading, ‘Getting your bond back,’ 5 November, 
https://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/housing-and-property/renting/ending-a-tenancy/getting-your-bond-back, viewed on February 8, 2022

[v] Residential Tenancies Authority, Queensland, 'Emergency repairs', https://www.rta.qld.gov.au/Renting/During-a-tenancy/Maintenance-and-repairs/Who-is-responsible-for-repairs, viewed on February 8, 2022

[vi] Residential Tenancies Authority, Queensland, 'Smoke alarms',
https://www.rta.qld.gov.au/Renting/During-a-tenancy/Maintenance-and-repairs/Smoke-alarms
, viewed on February 8, 2022

[vii] NSW Office of Fair Trading, 'Pests and vermin',
http://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/ftw/Tenants_and_home_owners/Renting_a_home/During_a_tenancy/Pests_and_vermin.page, viewed on February 8, 2022

[viii] Residential Tenancies Authority, Queensland, 'Lawns, trees and gardens',
https://www.rta.qld.gov.au/Renting/During-a-tenancy/Maintenance-and-repairs/Lawns-gardens-and-trees
, viewed on February 8, 2022

Please note the information in this article is general in nature and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any decisions based on this article. Newcastle Permanent Building Society does not recommend any third party products or services and is not liable in relation to them. Any links to third party websites are for your information only and Newcastle Permanent Building Society does not endorse their content.

This article has been prepared by Allianz Australia Insurance Limited ABN 15 000 122 850 AFSL 234708 (“Allianz”). Information contained in this article is accurate as at 08/02/22 and may be subject to change. In some cases information has been provided to us by third parties and while that information is believed to be accurate and reliable, its accuracy is not guaranteed in any way. Any opinions expressed constitute our views at the time of issue and are subject to change. Neither Allianz, nor its employees or directors give any warranty of accuracy or accept responsibility for any loss or liability incurred by you in respect of any error, omission or misrepresentation in this article. 

Newcastle Permanent Building Society Limited arranges this insurance as agent for the insurer Allianz Australia Insurance Limited ABN 15 000 122 850 AFSL No 234708, acting under our own AFS Licence. Policy terms, conditions, limits and exclusions apply. Before making a decision, please consider the Product Disclosure Statement and key fact sheets available on this website, by calling 13 19 87 or from any branch. The relevant Target Market Determination is available by calling 1300 493 824. If you purchase this insurance, we will receive a commission that is a percentage of the premium. Ask us for more details or see our Financial Services Guide before we provide you with services.

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