NSW Repairs and Maintenance

The landlord is generally responsible for any repairs or maintenance to the premises that are needed during the tenancy. The tenant should notify the landlord as soon as possible if repairs are necessary. The tenant can also conduct urgent repairs themselves if required.

This guide covers landlords (or head-tenants) and tenants (or sub-tenants) in a Residential Tenancy. This applies to the majority of share accommodation and residential property rental situations. To confirm it covers your situation visit What is my share accommodation situation?

Who is responsible for repairs and maintenance?

The landlord is under a general obligation to both provide and maintain the rented premises in a reasonable state of repair relative to the age of the premises, the rent payable, and the prospective life of the premises.

There are a number of important things to remember about this obligation:

  • the obligation applies to providing the premises in a reasonable state of repair - this means that the landlord must conduct repairs to any defect that would be noticeable on inspection by the landlord at the beginning of the tenancy.
  • the obligation also applies to maintaining the premises in a reasonable state of repair - this means that the landlord must conduct repairs to any defects which they are notified of by the tenant during the course of the tenancy. Once notified by the tenant, the landlord must carry out the repairs within a reasonable period - this is measured by the nature nature of the repairs, their cost, and their urgency.
  • reasonable state of repair is not just about safety, but also requires that the premises be fit for use as a residence by the tenant. Good practice is for the landlord to keep the premises in the same or a better state of repair than it was in at the beginning of the tenancy. This applies to all parts of the premises rented to the tenant.
  • the landlord is not responsible for disrepair to the property caused by the tenant.
  • the landlord is generally responsible for structural repairs to the premises such as repairing roofs, walls, doors, floors, or utility services like water or electricity supply.
  • the tenant is generally responsible for repairs to consumable products such as washers, globes, and batteries.
  • the premises must be safe for use as a premises by the tenant, i.e. there must not be anything in the premises that might pose danger of illness or injury to the tenant.

Who can conduct Urgent Repairs to the premises?

Urgent repairs to the rented premises can be performed by the landlord or tenant. The landlord should generally be given the opportunity to conduct the repairs first. When the landlord, or someone instructed by the landlord, carries out urgent repairs then the tenant should cooperate as much as possible in allowing the person access to the premises.

Before a tenant can carry out urgent repairs, they must notify the landlord of the need for the repairs, and give the landlord a reasonable opportunity to make those repairs. If the tenant does carry out urgent repairs, or organises for someone else to do them, the landlord must reimburse the tenant for the costs. The landlord must make the payment within 14 days of being notified. The maximum amount that the tenant can be reimbursed is $1,000.

The landlord is only required to reimburse the tenant if the following conditions are met:

  • the need for urgent repairs must not have been caused by the tenant.
  • the tenant must have given the landlord notice of the need for urgent repairs, or at least made a reasonable attempt to make the landlord aware.
  • the tenant gave the landlord a reasonable opportunity to make the repairs.
  • if a person was nominated in the residential tenancy agreement to carry out repairs, then the tenant must also have made a reasonable attempt to arrange for the nominated person to perform the repairs.
  • if the urgent repairs required it, they must have been carried out by properly licensed / qualified people - e.g. a qualified electrician for electrical repairs.
  • as soon as possible after the repairs were carried out, the tenant must give the landlord, or at least make a reasonable effort to give, a written notice describing the repairs and their costs in addition to copies of the receipts associated with the repairs.

Urgent repairs includes the following: burst water service, broken water appliances causing substantial water wastage, broken toilets, serious roof leaks, gas leaks, dangerous electrical faults, flooding or serious flood damage, serious storm or fire damage, failure of gas, electricity or water supplies, failure of essential services for hot water, cooking, heating, cooling or laundry, faults / damage that make the premises safe or insecure.

What can the tenant do if the landlord refuses to conduct or pay for repairs?

If the landlord and tenant cannot agree on whether repairs are required, or if the landlord does not pay for repairs carried out by the tenant, then the tenant can apply to the Tribunal for an order that the landlord carry out the repairs or reimburse the tenant for urgent repairs.

The Tribunal will only order the landlord to carry out repairs if it decides that the landlord has breached the obligation to maintain the premises in a reasonable state of repair, and the landlord was given notice of the need for repairs but did not carry them out with reasonable diligence.

The Tribunal will only order the landlord to reimburse the tenant for urgent repairs if the requirements for reimbursement listed above are met.

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These legal guides provide a brief summary and introduction of the laws and regulations affecting share accommodation. They do not cover all cases in all legal jurisdictions and might not apply in your specific share accommodation situation. It is important that you use this information as a guide only and seek independent Legal Advice or consult the Relevant Acts. We do not accept any liability that may arise from the use of this information.