Tenant Vs Landlord: Who Has To Do What Maintenance?

Who is responsible for repairs on a rental?

Renting a property is usually a pretty straightforward transaction. You need somewhere to live, a landlord needs someone to pay for their negative-geared investment portfolio. So as long as your rent is paid on time, your new landlord will let you live on their property, and everyone is happy. Except for when everyone's not happy.

Despite having state regulations outlining both tenant's and landlord's responsibilities, sometimes it's still unclear exactly who is legally responsible for some aspects of the property. That's why you should make sure you fully understand your rights and responsibilities before signing a tenancy agreement and moving into a property. Because it can ultimately save you a considerable amount of time, money, and stress throughout the period of your tenancy.

Obviously, it's your landlord's responsibility to provide a home that meets all of the current safety requirements, is structurally sound, and in a liveable condition, but what about garden maintenance, pest control, or a plumbing emergency? We'll answer some of the biggest issues below.

Smoke alarms

Your landlord is required to install smoke alarms inside each bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement.

But it's the responsibility of tenants to perform a smoke alarm check. This involves pressing the test button, wiping and vacuuming the dust, and replacing any flat batteries. If any of the alarms aren't operating correctly, contact your landlord immediately so they can get them replaced. Remember that smoke alarms save lives and if for whatever reason your smoke alarm was not installed properly or fully working and you've been injured at your rental as a result of it, consider filing a personal injury claim.

Lock problems

If your landlord loses a set of keys, it's their responsibility to organize a replacement set. Or if one of the locks is broken or faulty, then your landlord is required to replace the lock themselves or pay a locksmith to come out.

As frustrating as it is locking yourself out of your house, it's up to the tenant to arrange and pay for a locksmith to get inside and/or replace the keys. It's also the tenant's responsibility to pay for replacement locks or repair any other damage if they break in themselves instead of calling a locksmith. If someone else breaks into your home in a burglary situation, ask your landlord if the police need to be called, because this would usually need to be claimed on insurance.

Plumbing issues

As long as tenants take care of the property and do the right thing, the most basic plumbing maintenance and repairs should be covered by the landlord. These can include anything from plumbing upgrades to leaking taps, blocked pipes, pipe lining and other issues caused by general wear and tear.

However, if an issue is assessed by a licensed plumber who shows it was caused by misuse, tenants will usually be responsible for covering the costs of repairs. Misuse may include the build-up of hair, soap, and grease blocking shower or kitchen drains, as well as excess toilet paper, sanitary pads, or other foreign matter causing a clog in the toilet.

Yard maintenance

Any trees, plants, bushes, or lawns that require any kind of specialist upkeep such as hedge trimming or tree lopping, will usually be the responsibility of your landlord. That being said, the details of this will need to be specified within your tenancy agreement.

At the minimum, most tenants will be required to weed the garden as well as mow and edge the lawns. The expected state of the yard should generally be maintained to the same standard as the initial property condition report and as stated in the tenancy agreement.

Remember that some tenancy laws are different across different states, so tenants should always check their state's legislation. But no matter where you live, you can't simply stop paying rent if your landlord isn't doing their part. Just like they can't kick you out without the appropriate notice.

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