Urgent Repairs and the Changes Made to the Residential Tenancies Act

26/02/2016   Vicky Morrison, Property Portfolio Manager

When disaster strikes at a rental property, an urgent repair may be needed. But what if the landlord is uncontactable and you need to repair a severely broken toilet system or dangerous electrical fault? In cases such as these, the Victorian Residential Tenancies Act gives tenants and managing agents the authority to carry out urgent repairs up to $1,800, without the landlord’s authority. This number has increased from the $1,000 allowed previously.

The change comes as Consumer Affairs Victoria and the Real Estate Institute of Victoria have realised that with the increase in the cost of living, the cost of repairs and maintenance has also increased. This means that in some cases, the previous cap of $1,000 is not enough to cover repairs that are considered urgent so an increase was necessary to ensure prompt response.

What is an urgent repair?

It is important to note that only certain items are considered “urgent repairs” under the Victorian Residential Tenancies Act and there are rules around when these repairs can be carried out without an owner’s authority. The Act is very clear with what it considers an urgent repair, and these items are:

  • a 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 by a landlord or agent for hot water, water, cooking, heating, or laundering
  • failure or breakdown of the gas, electricity or water supply
  • any fault or damage in the premises 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, or
  • a serious fault in a lift or staircase.

What happens once an urgent repair has been reported?

Once you (the tenant) report an urgent repair to your agent, the property manager will call the landlord advising of the issue and the options which are available to fix the problem. Property managers should work with their tenants to ensure that the issue is rectified in a timely manner so that you are not forced to take matters into your own hands and engage tradesmen yourself.

In situations where the landlord is not contactable, your property manager will need to make an executive decision and have urgent works approved. Your property manager will only do this in crisis situations – they are trained to know how to handle an urgent maintenance situation should it arise, to ensure that legislation is complied with and potential compensation claims are avoided.

While it is very rare that you would not be able to contact your property manager to report urgent repairs, missed connections can happen outside of business hours, during the Christmas period and on public holidays. In these cases, tenants can arrange works without permission (up to a value of $1, 800) if they are unable to contact their property manager in a crisis.

In an emergency, tenants of The Hopkins Group should always try and call their property manager. Our  property managers try to be contactable for urgent repairs, but sometimes issues arise when least expected. If you cannot get hold of your property manager in an emergency, tenants are given the authority to complete the repair within the threshold without the approval of their property manager and/or landlord.

What is the maximum repair cost a landlord will be required to reimburse for an urgent repair undertaken without authority?

The maximum amount that a landlord or property owner will have to reimburse a tenant or resident who pays for urgent repairs is $1800, including GST. This maximum will also apply when a tenant or resident seeks a Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal order for urgent repairs.

Who can I call if I have any questions?

Our property management team is available to answer any questions you might have about urgent repairs and changes made to the Residential Tenancies Act. Please call 1300 726 082 to speak with one of property managers today, or email your property manager directly.





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