Property Maintenance – Who is Responsible?

Every time you enter into any legal, contractual agreement, you are bound by the requirements laid out in the agreement that you signed. So, before you sign your next lease, make sure you understand who does what when it comes to rental property maintenance and not only what’s expected of you as a tenant, but also what you can expect from your landlord.

The Victorian Tenancy Agreement states:

Property Maintenance: Urgent repairs:
If a tenant or resident requests urgent repairs, the landlord or owner must respond immediately.

Urgent repairs are:

  • burst water service
  • blocked or broken toilet system
  • serious roof leak
  • gas leak
  • dangerous electrical fault
  • flooding or serious flood damage
  • serious storm or fire damage
  • failure or breakdown of any essential service or appliance provided by a landlord or agent for hot water, water, cooking, heating, or laundering
  • failure or breakdown of the gas, electricity or water supply
  • any fault or damage in the premises that makes the premises unsafe or insecure
  • an appliance, fitting or fixture that is not working properly and causes a substantial amount of water to be wasted
  • a serious fault in a lift or staircase.

Visit Consumer Affairs Victoria for more information on urgent repairs.

Property Maintenance: Non-urgent repairs:

For non-urgent repairs, you must notify the landlord or owner in writing, advising them what needs to be repaired and giving them 14 days to carry out the repairs.

Once a landlord or owner receives a notice that repairs need to be done, they have 14 days to carry them out.

If they do not carry out the repairs within that time, you may send Consumer Affairs Victoria a copy of the written notice with a letter requesting a Consumer Affairs Victoria inspector to visit the property and fill out a report.

You have 60 days from when you receive a copy of the report to apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for a repair order if the repairs have still not been carried out by the landlord or owner.

You must continue to pay rent or hiring charges even if the landlord or owner has not arranged for the repairs. However, if the matter has already been heard by VCAT, you may apply for the rent to be paid into VCAT’s Rent Special Account while the matter is sorted out.

Landlords and tenants alike are often confused over who is responsible for maintenance on rented property. The rule is that Landlords have responsibility for repairs that are referred to commonly as “fair wear and tear”, and Tenants have responsibility for repairs caused by them, their flatmates, family or visitors.
Tenants can also be responsible for to items such as tap washers, light bulbs and stove elements, depending on what is detailed in the Tenancy Agreement. Section 40 and 45 of Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) details Landlord and Tenant responsibilities.
Property Management: Planned Maintenance

Planned Maintenance includes items of a more major or regular nature. This includes items that may be required seasonally, i.e. gutters cleaned out annually in early winter. Maintenance such as painting or exterior cleaning are major items that will help ensure the property is maintained in a rentable condition and to avoid serious deterioration of the property.
Often the period between tenancies is a good time to have planned maintenance completed. It is preferable that a planned maintenance programme be undertaken annually for each property.
A landlord’s reaction time to a maintenance issues will vary according to the type of problem, but a good time frame would be, immediate for urgent repairs, 48 hours for moderate repairs and 5-10 days for normal repairs.
Certain repairs may require an Insurance Claim and it is good practice to contact the Insurance Company immediately you suspect that a claim might be possible.

For information on how to request or report a maintenance issue, send us an email.  If you have a specific question, comment below and we will answer it for you.

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6 thoughts on “Property Maintenance – Who is Responsible?

  1. Thank you both for your comments. Maintenance on rental property can be a confusing issue for both landlord and tenant and a good property manager will ensure this is a seamless process for both parties.

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  2. end of tenancy cleaning Here are some natural recipes that you can take advantage of. They are suggested by tenancy cleaning services, and I have tried most of them, I found them useful and effective. They save me a lot of time and effort.

    Backing soda

    We can use backing soda for a lot more things than just cooking. It is also a great all purpose cleaning solvent, it can help you to clean the entire house. post tenancy cleaning

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  3. Relatives own a mobile home which is on a mobilehome parksite. About 2 years ago the park owners/managers demanded that all front yards have grass in front, at renters expense. Today they are demanding, at renters expense, the yards look like a desert scene with rocks, boulders, cactus, ect. Question–who is responsible for expenses for changes, renters or owners of property? Thank You, Curious

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  4. Hi 'Curious',

    Generally tenants are responsible for maintaining the exterior to the same standard as when they took possession of the property/accommodation and any changes necessary to comply with park regulations should be at the property owners expense and then maintained by the tenant.

    I hope this helps clarify your relative's position.

    Regards,
    Anne

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