Tasmania Repairs and Maintenance to the 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?

Who is responsible for general repairs and maintenance?

The landlord is responsible for maintaining the premises throughout the tenancy agreement. This means that the premises should be kept as close as possible to the condition it was in at the start of the tenancy, allowing for normal, reasonable wear and tear over time.

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

  • 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

Tenant’s duty to notify landlord of need for repairs
The tenant must notify the landlord of the need for any repairs within 7 days of the repairs becoming necessary. If the tenant does not notify the landlord within 7 days, they will be in breach of the agreement and may be liable for part of the cost of repairs if the problem was worsened by the delay.

How long does the landlord have to carry out repairs?
After being notified of the need for repairs, the landlord has 28 days to carry out the repairs needed. If, however, the repairs are to fix a heating element on a stove, the landlord only has 14 days to carry out the repairs.

How are repairs carried out?
The landlord can perform the repairs themselves or arrange for a contractor (e.g. a tradesperson) to perform them. Some repairs may require a properly qualified tradesperson to perform them safely and correctly, for example an accredited electrician should be used to fix any problems with wiring.

The landlord can choose to replace rather than fix an object or service at the premises, so long as it performs the same function as the original to a similar degree. For example, if an oven has fallen into disrepair, it may be a better option to simply replace it rather than fix it. In this case, the landlord would need to ensure that the new oven does everything the old one did.

What are ‘urgent repairs’?

Urgent repairs include repairs to fix any of the following ‘essential services’:

  • water, sewerage, electricity, heating (including taps, light globes, light tubes, fuses, or meter boxes)
  • cooking stove, hot-water service
  • removal of grey-water, any on-site water-treatment

How are urgent repairs conducted?

The tenant must notify the landlord as soon as possible of the need for urgent repairs. The landlord must arrange for repairs to be conducted as soon as possible after being notified.

What happens if the tenant cannot contact the landlord?
If the tenant cannot contact the landlord, or the landlord does not arrange for the repairs to be carried out, within 24 hours, they can contact the nominated repairer to carry out the repairs. The nominated repairer is a person previously authorised by the landlord to conduct repairs. If there is a nominated repairer, they should be listed in the tenancy agreement.

If there is no nominated repairer, the tenant can contact a suitable repairer to carry out the repairs instead. A ‘suitable repairer’ is someone properly qualified to perform the necessary repairs, e.g. an electrician for wiring or a plumber for sewerage, and who is normally employed in the required trade.

Who pays for the repairs?
If the repairs are arranged by the landlord or are carried out by the ’nominated repairer’, then the landlord must pay for them.

If the repairs are carried out by a ‘suitable repairer’, then the tenant must initially pay for the repairs. See below for information about reimbursements from the landlord.

How do ‘emergency repairs’ work?

The tenant must notify the landlord as soon as possible of the need for any emergency repairs. Emergency repairs are to fix serious damage to the premises and prevent any further damage or deterioration, especially if the repairs are necessary to fix any defects that amy be dangerous or prevent the tenant from living at the premises. The landlord must arrange for repairs to be conducted as soon as possible after being notified.

What happens if the tenant cannot contact the landlord?
If the tenant cannot contact the landlord, or the landlord does not arrange for the repairs to be carried out, and the damage is likely to cause further damage or deterioration, they can contact the nominated repairer to carry out the repairs. The nominated repairer is a person previously authorised by the landlord to conduct repairs. If there is a nominated repairer, they should be listed in the tenancy agreement.

If there is no nominated repairer, the tenant can contact a suitable repairer to carry out the repairs instead. A ‘suitable repairer’ is someone properly qualified to perform the necessary repairs, e.g. an electrician for wiring or a plumber for sewerage, and who is normally employed in the required trade.

Who pays for the repairs?
If the repairs are arranged by the landlord or are carried out by the ’nominated repairer’, then the landlord must pay for them.

If the repairs are carried out by a ‘suitable repairer’, then the tenant must initially pay for the repairs. See below for information about reimbursements from the landlord.

How can the tenant be reimbursed for urgent or emergency repairs?

To be reimbursed for repairs, the tenant must give the landlord the following documents:

  • statement from the repairer of the cause of the need for repairs
  • copy of the account statement
  • receipts of the account payment

The landlord has 14 days to reimburse the tenant after receiving the documents.

Can the landlord dispute liability for repairs?

The landlord can dispute their liability for repairs by applying to the Court within 14 days of receiving the documents listed above.

The landlord can only dispute liability for the following reasons:

  • if the landlord was not notified about the need for repairs
  • if the need for repairs was the tenant’s fault or a result of the tenant’s breach of the tenancy agreement
  • if the landlord arranged for the repairs to be carried out within 24 hours (for urgent repairs only)

What can the tenant do if the landlord refuses to carry out repairs?

If the landlord refuses to carry out repairs despite the fact that the tenant has notified them of the need, the tenant can apply to the Residential Tenancy Commissioner. The Commissioner can hold a hearing to determine whether the landlord is liable for repairs, and order the repairs to be carried out if necessary.

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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.