Something that can be frustrating for landlords and tenants is determining who is responsible for maintaining/repairing what in the property.

As a whole, both tenants and landlords are responsible for keeping the property in good condition. However, there are financial consequences for both parties if they don’t follow through on their responsibilities.

Maintenance – who is responsible?

In general, tenants are responsible for:

  • Keeping the property reasonably clean and tidy (outside and in)
  • Rubbish removal
  • Alerting the landlord to any damages or repairs

Landlords are typically responsible for:

  • Keeping the property in a reasonable state of repair
  • Locks and security
  • Cleaning the chimney (if there is one)
  • Keeping the outside of the property clean (this is slightly different from a tenant’s responsibility. In this case, landlords are responsible for tasks like cleaning the gutters or washing the house)
  • If the landlord has installed internet, then they are responsible for ensuring that it is working properly
  • Ensuring the property is compliant with the Healthy Homes Standards

Landlords and tenants should agree between them who is responsible for things like lawn mowing and changing lightbulbs.

Repairs – when the tenant is responsible

When it comes to repairs, the responsibility generally lies with the person who caused it.

It is up to tenants to make landlords aware when there is damage or if something in the property needs to be repaired. However, if the tenant does not notify the landlord as soon as possible, they may be liable for the repair costs if the damage worsens.

Legislation that came into effect in 2019 which made tenants liable for ‘careless damage’. If the tenant, or guests of, causes any careless damage to the property, then they are accountable for costs of the damage for up to four weeks’ rent or the landlord’s insurance excess.

Repairs – when the landlord is responsible

Any repairs relating to damages caused by burglaries, natural events, or fair wear and tear falls to the landlord.

There are certain repairs that need to be dealt with immediately. These are referred to as ‘urgent repairs’. Any damage or disrepair that has the potential to cause injury to a person or property is classed as an urgent repair, and landlords are responsible for handling them and their costs.

Not carrying out these repairs or other repairs identified by the tenants is considered unlawful and can incur serious financial penalties for landlords if ignored. In some instances, landlords can be financially liable for thousands of dollars for failing to look after their rental property.

In addition to maintaining repairs for the property, landlords are also responsible for ensuring the property is compliant with the Healthy Homes Standards. Failing to meet these standards, or failing to ensure that they are in good working condition, can result in fines of up to $4,000.

The Tenancy Tribunal are already coming down on those who don’t take the appropriate maintenance or repairs measures in rental properties. To avoid being subjected to these fines, it’s critical you understand your responsibilities.

If you need further clarification or any other advice on rental properties, get in touch with one of our experts.