REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE – New Laws

New rental laws came into effect on 29 March 2021.


Some of the new laws expand the rights and responsibilities of renters and rental providers (landlords) as it relates to Repairs and Maintenance activities. Below is a summary of the new position.


A. REPAIRS

  • Rental providers must make urgent repairs immediately.

  • Rental providers must make non-urgent repairs within 14 days of getting a written request.

  • Renters must continue to pay rent even if they are waiting for a repair to be made.

Urgent repairs

Urgent repairs may include the following:

  • a blocked or broken toilet

  • a dangerous electrical fault

  • a gas leak

  • a serious water leak, or flooding

  • breakdown of an essential service or appliance provided by the rental provider, for example, a hot water system.

If the rental provider does not respond quickly enough and the renter has to pay for an urgent repair, the rental provider must pay the renter back, up to a limit of $2,500.


Non-urgent repairs

The renter needs to write to the rental provider or agent or can use the ‘Notice to rental provider of rented premises’ form, spelling out the necessary repair. The rental provider or agent must respond within 14 days.


Renter at Fault

A rental provider can tell a renter to make or pay for repairs if they caused the damage or fault.


You give the renter a ‘Repair notice’. This is a written notice that says:

  • what the damage is,

  • that the damage was caused by the renter, and

  • whether you want the renter to repair the damage, or whether you will repair it.


If the renter is to organise the repair, this must be done within 14 days and to the standard a tradesperson would make it. If they don’t do this, you may organise the repair at the renter’s expense.


If the rental provider is to organise the repair, you may ask the renter to cover the reasonable cost of repairs. Disputes are settled at VCAT.


B. MAINTENANCE


The renter is generally responsible for:

  • keeping the property reasonably clean, and

  • minor maintenance tasks, such as changing standard light globes and keeping the garden tidy.

Inspections and entry to the property

The rental provider or agent can enter the property at an agreed date and time. This agreement must be made within 7 days before they enter.


Otherwise, they must give the renter the appropriate written notice and a reason for entering the property. For example, to do a general inspection, repairs, to show the property to a buyer, getting it valued taking photos for advertising or if the rental provider suspects that the property has sustained damage.


Renters not have to agree to a verbal request from the rental provider or agent. They can ask them to provide written notice and a reason for entering.


Unless agreed with you, the rental provider or agent can only enter between 8am and 6pm, and not on public holidays.


There are limits on how often they can enter, and for how long.


Some of the recent major changes to laws about rental provider entry rights and responsibilities include:

  • new minimum notice periods,

  • there are now limits on the number of times a rental provider can show the property to prospective renters or buyers, and how long the inspections could last,

  • there are now restrictions on open inspections when a resident is a protected person under family violence or personal safety legislation,

  • renters can now seek compensation for loss of property as well as damage while a rental provider or their agent is on the premises.


At May Klye & Associates, we specialise in dealing with the accounting and tax aspects affecting property investors, be they residential or commercial. We have well over a hundred property investor clients, and we have extensive experience in getting them the best tax outcome. If you would like to know more, call Noel or Amanda on 03 9585 7555 or email us at enquiries@mktax.com.au