Northern Territory Repairs and Maintenance to Rented Premises

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.

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?

Landlord’s obligation to provide clean, safe, and habitable premises

Before entering an agreement
The landlord must not enter a tenancy agreement unless the premises:

  • is habitable, AND
  • meets all health and safety requirements under Northern Territory law

The premises is habitable if people can live there without the building posing any obvious threat or danger to their health or safety.

Before the tenant moves in
Before the tenant moves in, the landlord must ensure that the premises:

  • is habitable,
  • meets all health and safety requirements under Northern Territory law,
  • is reasonably clean, AND
  • is in a reasonable state of repair

General repairs and maintenance during tenancy

The landlord must maintain the premises (and any goods included) in a reasonable state of repair during the tenancy. This means that the landlord is generally responsible for any repairs and maintenance that are required for the premises.

As a general rule, the landlord must conduct repairs and maintenance that keep the premises in the same (or better) condition than it was in at the beginning of the tenancy.

After being notified of the need for repairs, the landlord must ‘act with reasonable diligence’ to fix the problem. This means that the landlord should organise for repairs to take place as soon as possible.

Tenant must notify landlord of need for repairs
The tenant must notify the landlord as soon as possible if any repairs are necessary.

If the tenant fails to notify the landlord, and the damage or disrepair to the premises is made worse by the delay, then the landlord may not be liable for the full cost of repair. In this situation, the tenant may be responsible for part of the repair costs.

If the landlord has requested that any notice for repairs be in writing, then the tenant must ensure they notify the landlord that way.

When can the tenant organise repairs to be done?

Although it is generally the landlord’s responsibility to organise any repairs to the premises, in some cases of very serious damage that makes the premises uninhabitable or unsafe, the tenant is allowed to organise repairs instead.

The tenant can only organise repairs if all of the following 4 conditions are met:

  1. Premises unsafe, uninhabitable or insecure—the premises is either:
    • currently uninhabitable or unsafe, OR
    • there is a reasonable possibility that damage will occur to the premises or the tenant’s property, or that the premises will become unsafe, uninhabitable, or insecure if repairs are not conducted.
  2. Tenant has NOT breached agreement—the damage or disrepair must not be caused by the tenant breaching the tenancy agreement.
  3. Tenant has notified landlord in writing—the tenant must have notified the landlord in writing of the need for repairs.
  4. Repairs not carried out by landlord in time—the repairs have not be carried out in time because either:
    • the repairs have not been made within 7 days of the landlord receiving the tenant’s written notice, OR
    • the repairs have not been made within 21 days if the landlord previously notified the tenant within 7 days of receiving the notice that they had arranged for repairs to be conducted.

Tenant should use the ‘nominated repairer’
If the landlord has listed a ‘nominated repairer’ in the tenancy agreement who is qualified to conduct the repairs, the tenant should use that person to conduct the repairs. The tenant must take all reasonable steps to contact the repairer and organise the repairs through them.

The tenant should only use a nominated repairer who is appropriate and properly qualified for the repairs required—e.g. an electrician to perform repairs to wiring.

When can the tenant use a different person to conduct repairs?
If the landlord has NOT listed a nominated repairer, then the tenant can organise their own person to perform the repairs.

If the landlord has listed a nominated repairer, the tenant can only use a different person if all of the following 3 conditions are met:

  1. Tenant cannot engage the repairer—the tenant cannot engage the nominated repairer to conduct the repairs within a reasonable time, despite making reasonable attempts to do so. This can mean either of 2 situations:
    • the tenant is unable to contact the nominated repairer at all, OR
    • if the tenant has made contact—the nominated repairer is unavailable to conduct the repairs within a reasonable time.
  2. Tenant gets 2 quotes—the tenant has obtained at least 2 quotes from other repairers properly qualified to conduct the repairs.
  3. Tenant chooses cheapest quote—the tenant chooses the cheapest of the quotes mentioned above. If, however, the repairer with the cheapest quote cannot conduct the repairs within a reasonable period, the tenant must choose the next cheapest quote.

How much can the tenant claim from the landlord for repairs?
The maximum amount that the tenant can be reimbursed from the landlord for arranging repairs is the equivalent of 2 weeks rent.

If the cost of repairs exceeds 2 weeks rent, the tenant should consider instead seeking an order from the Tribunal compelling the landlord to arrange and pay for the repairs themselves.

How does the tenant seek reimbursement from the landlord for repair costs?
The tenant has two options in paying for repairs:

  1. pay the repairer and seek reimbursement from the landlord, OR
  2. ask the landlord to pay the repairer directly

The tenant can only seek reimbursement or ask the landlord to pay directly if they have notified the landlord of the costs of the repairs and provided the landlord with documents (e.g. invoices or receipts) that the prove the costs incurred.

The landlord and tenant should agree on the way the costs are paid—i.e. by cash, bank transfer, etc.

What can the tenant do if the landlord has not completed emergency repairs?

Emergency repairs means work to repair any of the following:

  • burst water service
  • blocked/broken lavatory
  • serious roof leak
  • gas leak
  • dangerous electrical fault
  • flooding/serious flood damage
  • serious storm/fire/impact damage
  • failure or breakdown of gas/electricity/water supply
  • failure or breakdown of essential service or appliance for water or cooking
  • any fault or damage making the premises unsafe
  • any fault or damage likely to injure someone, damage property, or unduly inconvenience a resident
  • any serious fault in a staircase, lift, or other area that unduly inconveniences a resident

The tenant can seek an order from the Tribunal which forces the landlord to conduct emergency repairs within a short period. The tenant should use this option if the landlord otherwise refuses to conduct repairs.

The Tribunal will only make an order for repairs if all of the following 4 conditions are met:

  1. the repairs fall into one of the categories listed above
  2. the damage/disrepair is NOT caused by the tenant breaching the tenancy agreement
  3. the tenant has previously notified the landlord in writing of the need for repairs
  4. the repairs have not been made in time because either:
    • the repairs have not been conducted within 5 days of the landlord being notified, OR
    • the repairs have not been conducted within 14 days if the landlord previously informed the tenant within 5 days of receiving notice that they had arranged for repairs to be conducted.

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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.