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Urgent Repairs and the Changes Made to the Residential Tenancies Act

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.

Get Your Motor Running – Changes to Motor Vehicle Tax Deductions

If you have ever tried to claim your motor vehicle as work-related expense at tax time, you may recall that in previous financial years there were three ways to claim the tax deduction for your motor vehicle. These were:

  • the kilometre method;
  • the 12 per cent of original cost method; or
  • the one-third of running costs method depends on which method that would give you the best deduction.

However on 1 July 2015, the Australian Tax Office (ATO) removed the old 12 per cent of original cost and one-third of running costs methods. There are now only two methods for calculating your car expenses:

  • the ‘cents per kilometre’ method; and
  • the ‘log book’ method.

How the Cents per Kilometre Method Works

Under the cents per kilometre method, you can calculate how much you can claim by multiplying the business kilometres you travelled (up to a maximum 5,000 km), by a cents per kilometre rate.

For the 2015 financial year, there were three rates available depending on your car’s engine capacity, with the maximum rate being 77 cents per kilometre. From 1 July 2015, the ATO have simplified the cents per kilometre method to a single rate of 66 cents per kilmetre no matter what your vehicle’s engine capacity is.

This is unfortunate news for those who use this method with their larger sized car as the rate is no longer determined by your car’s engine capacity; the flat rate does not account for higher costs required to run a large car.

If you’re using this method, you only have to show how you calculated the work related kilometres. Diary records will be sufficient.


Jane travelled 6,000 business kilometres during the income year. Jane worked out she could only claim up to 5,000 business kilometres using the cents per kilometre method, as follows:

5,000 km x $0.66 per km = $3,300

How the Log Book Method Works

This method is most advantageous if you travel a significant number of kilometres for work purposes during the financial year. Using the logbook method, your tax deduction claim is based on your car’s business use percentage. Your business use percentage is the percentage of kilometres you travel in your car for business related purposes.

To work out the business percentage, you will need to keep a logbook for your car for a “typical” 12 week period. These must be 12 consecutive weeks (ie. 12 weeks in a row), and must include every trip you take during that period, not just your business related trips.

Your logbook must include the following detail:

At each entry:

  • the date the journey began and the date it ended for each day if journey longer than a day;
  • the odometer reading at the start and end of the journey;
  • the number of kilometres the car travelled on the journey;
  • the reason for the journey.

In each log book:

  • the period the log book begins and ends;
  • the odometer readings at the start and end of the log book period;
  • the total kilometres travelled during the log book period;
  • the business kilometres;
  • the percentage of total kilometres that were business during the period.


At the end of the income year, Jane’s logbook shows she travelled a total of 11,000 kilometres, of which 6,600 were for business.

To work out the percentage the car was used for business purposes, Jade made the following calculation:

6,600/11,000 × 100 = 60%

Jane’s total expenses, including depreciation, are $9,000 for the income year. To work out how much he could claim, Jane completed the following calculation:

$9,000 × 60% = $5,400

The changes made by the ATO hope to modernise the car expense deduction rules, and simplify the way taxpayers make these types of deductions. If you intend to claim motor vehicle expenses in your future tax returns and are unsure of what will be the best method for you, please don’t hesitate to contact our accounting team on 1300 726 082.

Kezia Eman is an accountant with The Hopkins Group (John Hopkins Accounting Pty Ltd). This blog post contains general advice only, which has been prepared without taking into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any person. You should, therefore, consider the appropriateness of the information in light of your own objectives, financial situation or needs.

Zika Virus – What’s the Buzz?

If you’ve read the paper, watched television or consumed any social media in recent weeks, chances are you would have heard of the Zika virus (ZIKV) and its fast growing spread across the world.

But how does the heightened awareness of the Zika virus relate back to financial wellbeing? And why are we writing a blog post on it? Well, allow us to present some facts and figures within this article to point out the relevance of this current affair and its link to your financial security – more specifically, insurance.

What is it?

Since 2015, the Zika virus has spread rapidly to a number of countries, particularly in the Americas. It is known to be transmitted by mosquitoes and people planning travel around the world are advised to check whether the country they are planning to visit has active Zika virus transmission.

Most infected people have no symptoms or experience only a mild illness but the virus has been linked to microcephaly, a neurological disorder in which infants are born with undersized heads.

Key facts

  • A mosquito-borne disease
  • Transmission has been confirmed by various scenarios. Predominantly by the bite.
  • Usually no symptoms
  • One in every five cases, infection causes an illness with fever, rash, conjunctivitis, severe headache and muscle pain
  • Transmission of the virus is usually not severe or require hospitalisation
  • Outbreaks have been reported in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands
  • All cases in Australia have been a result from travelling overseas
  • No specific treatment or vaccine currently available
  • Best form of prevention is of course avoiding being bitten by mosquitoes in impacted countries
  • Pregnant women who get ZIKV, may have birth defects in their offspring, including a serious condition known as microcephaly.  Studies on this are required and evolving.

Zika virus infection is diagnosed through:

  • medical history, including a travel history to look for any exposure in a country with active Zika transmission in the two weeks prior to illness
  • physical examination, to look for evidence of the infection
  • blood tests

Is it in Australia?

Currently, 23 cases have already been identified in Australia.  The World Health Organisation has officially declared this virus as a world health emergency.

Recent news stories have reported that while people have tested positive for the Zika virus in Australia, there was no risk to the public as the virus was not be transmitted person to person and was not present in Australian mosquitoes.

A recent ninemsn article confirmed the breed of mosquito capable of carrying the Zika virus has been found at Brisbane’s international airport seven times in the past year.

But what’s the link to my financial wellbeing?

Given this virus is all over the news, we thought it would be a good idea to investigate how it is relevant to one’s insurances. Basically, we expect that through the insurance application process, insurers will increase questions surrounding your previous or intended travel and any potential relationship or links to this virus.

Should the unthinkable happen and your or a member of your family get struck down by this virus, you need to make sure you have appropriate insurance in place to cover all sorts of outcomes.

Why is it important to review my insurance now – Including Child Trauma cover?

This virus has the potential to increase liabilities on insurer’s books, specifically for claims pertaining to consequences of contracting the virus and more specifically if your offspring is affected by microcephaly.

Insurance has always been an important part of client’s long term financial wellbeing, however more specifically, Child Trauma cover has never been so important with many consumers unaware of its existence.

The cover provides financial support should the unforeseen happen to your children and most importantly, it helps with any financial stress, to provide choices to aid in your child’s recovery.

Many insurance providers include child cover options allowing cover for children to be added to any Death, TPD, or Trauma cover taken out by the parent(s).

What does it mean?

If either you or your partner become exposed and this exposure is evidenced through your medical history, the policy terms offered to you may include an exclusion.

What next?

For the most up to date information on countries experiencing active Zika virus transmission, stay tuned to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Smartraveller website.

In terms of making sure you and your family are protected or to check the clauses in your own insurance policy, contact your Financial Planner to discuss your personal insurance plan.



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The Hopkins Group

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Level 23, 500 Collins Street, Melbourne, VIC 3001

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GPO Box 4347, Melbourne, VIC 3001

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