South Australia 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.

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 general 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 its age, original character, and prospective life.

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.
  • 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.

The landlord will breach their obligation to provide and maintain the premises in a reasonable state of repair if they have been notified of a defect and have not acted to remedy it with reasonable diligence.

How do emergency repairs work?

Emergency repairs include any repairs necessary to prevent personal injury, damage to property, or undue convenience to the tenant. The tenant must not have caused the damage or situation that makes the repairs necessary.

The landlord should generally be given the first opportunity to conduct emergency repairs. The tenant should therefore inform the landlord as soon as possible of the need for repairs.

The tenant can conduct the repairs and be reimbursed for the reasonable costs if:

  • the landlord has been notified of the need for repairs but has not taken reasonable actions to fix the problem, or
  • the landlord cannot be notified despite reasonable attempts by the tenant to contact them.

If the tenant conducts the emergency repairs, they must ensure that the work is conducted by a properly licensed and qualified person—e.g. a plumber to fix a sewerage problem. If the repairs are not carried out by a qualified person, then the tenant may not be entitled to a reimbursement from the landlord.

The tenant may also be entitled to compensation from the landlord if their property has been damaged because the landlord has not taken appropriate action despite being notified of the need for emergency repairs.

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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.