Victoria 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 general repairs and maintenance? (non-urgent repairs)

The landlord has a general obligation to ensure that the rented premises is maintained in good repair throughout the tenancy.

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

  • the landlord must conduct repairs to any defects which they are notified of by the tenant during the course of the tenancy.
  • “good 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.
  • in share accommodation, the landlord needs to maintain both the rented premises (e.g. the rented room) and any common areas.

The tenant should use a Notice to Landlord form to notify the landlord of the need for any repairs.

What can the tenant do if the landlord refuses to conduct repairs?
If the landlord refuses to conduct repairs after being notified, the tenant can apply to Consumer Affairs Victoria for an inspection. The tenant is only allowed to apply if: * the tenant has given the landlord a written notice that repairs are required, and * the landlord has not carried out the repairs within 14 days of being notified.

Tenants should use the Request for repairs inspection form.

If Consumer Affairs believes that the landlord must make repairs after conducting the inspection, it will then contact the landlord to inform them of their obligation. Consumer Affairs will also give a copy of the inspection report to the tenant. In most cases, landlords should comply with the information provided by Consumer Affairs.

If the landlord does not carry out the repairs, or does so inadequately, then the tenant can apply to the Tribunal for an order that the landlord perform repairs. The tenant has 60 days to make the application from when they receive the report from Consumer Affairs. If the tenant does not receive a report from Consumer Affairs within 90 days of requesting one, then they may also apply to the Tribunal.

Does the tenant have to pay rent while waiting for repairs to be done? Tenants must continue to pay all the rent due while they wait for the landlord to conduct repairs. However, the tenant can apply to the Tribunal to pay rent into a special holding account until the repairs are carried out. The Tribunal will only allow this if it has decided that the landlord must conduct repairs. The landlord can apply to have the rent paid out once they have conducted the repairs.

When can the tenant be liable for repairs and maintenance?

If the premises or common area is damaged by the tenant or their guest, then the tenant may be liable to conduct repairs.

To require the tenant to conduct repairs, the landlord should use the Notice to Tenant form. The landlord has two options to conduct repairs:

  1. Tenant Conducts Repairs - the landlord can require the tenant to perform the repairs at their own expense. The tenant has 14 days to conduct repairs after receiving the notice. The repairs must be carried out to a professional standard.
  2. Landlord Conduct Repairs - the landlord can conduct the repairs themselves, and then charge the reasonable cost of those repairs to the tenant.

The notice should state the following:

  • the nature of the damage
  • that the damage was caused by the tenant not taking care
  • whether the landlord wants the tenant to conduct the repairs, or that the landlord will conduct the repairs
  • if the landlord wants the tenant to conduct repairs, or if the landlord wants to conduct the repairs themselves

Who can conduct Urgent Repairs to the premises?

Urgent repairs includes any of the following:

  • burst water service
  • blocked or broken toilet system
  • serious roof leak
  • gas leak
  • dangerous electrical fault
  • flooding or serious flood damage
  • serious storm or fire damage
  • failure or breakdown of any essential service or appliance provided with the premises for hot water, water, cooking, heating, or laundry
  • failure or breakdown of the gas, electricity or water supply
  • any fault or damage that makes the premises unsafe or insecure
  • an appliance, fitting or fixture that is not working properly and causes a substantial amount of water to be wasted
  • a serious fault in a lift or staircase

If urgent repairs are required, then the tenant should notify the landlord as soon as possible. It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to arrange for urgent repairs to be conducted as soon as possible.

The tenant can conduct emergency repairs themselves if the tenant is unable to contact the landlord after taking reasonable steps to do so. Once the tenant conducts the repairs, they must give the landlord 14 days written notice using the Notice to Landlord form. The tenant can charge up to $1,000 in this written notice for reimbursement for the cost of repairs.

The tenant can also apply to the Tribunal for an order that the landlord reimburse the tenant under any of the following 3 circumstances:

  1. the tenant cannot cover the cost of the repairs
  2. the repairs cost more than $1,000
  3. the landlord refuses to pay for the cost of the repairs

The Tribunal will hear any application for reimbursement within 2 business days.

Back to Victoria Rights and Obligations during Tenancy

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.