Factsheet 06: Repairs and maintenance
As a tenant you have rights under the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 and Residential Tenancies Regulation 2010. This factsheet explains the law in NSW about repairs and maintenance for rented premises.
Under the terms of the standard residential tenancy agreement (your lease), you agree:
If you do not meet these obligations, the landlord may apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) for order/s that you comply with your tenancy agreement, or to end your tenancy or for compensation.
The landlord agrees:
‘Reasonable’ repair depends on the age of the premises, the amount of rent you pay and the potential life of the premises.
The landlord is not required to fix any damage that you cause. However, if they later want to claim compensation from you for that damage they must try to limit the cost of any repair or replacement. Contact your local Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service for advice about this.
Urgent repairs means any work needed to repair any of the following:
Examples of damage include:
Tell the landlord/agent – in writing if possible – about what needs fixing. Follow up any conversations with a letter. Keep a copy of the letter and a record of any conversations as evidence that you told the landlord/agent.
If there is no electricity or water it may be up to the service provider to fix the problem (if it is outside the boundary of the premises). See also Factsheet 23: Utilities.
If the landlord/agent cannot be contacted or is unwilling to do the urgent repairs, you can arrange for them to be done.
If the landlord/agent cannot be contacted or is unwilling to do any urgent repairs, or if they are taking too long to do them, you can arrange for the repairs to be done. Do not pay any more than $1,000 or you may not get your money back – the landlord is only required to pay you for any reasonable costs up to $1,000. They are obliged to pay within 14 days of your notice.
You must be able to show that:
You must give the landlord/agent written notice about the repairs, costs and copies of receipts. The landlord must pay you for any reasonable costs up to $1,000 within 14 days of your notice.
If the landlord does not pay, apply to the Tribunal within 3 months from the end of that 14 days for an order that they do so.
If you cannot afford to pay for urgent repairs, apply to the Tribunal for an urgent hearing for the repairs to be done. You can also apply for a rent reduction until the repairs are done. See ‘Applying to the Tribunal’ below.
Tell the landlord/agent in writing what work needs to be done and by when – give a clear deadline. Keep a copy of the letter and a record of any conversations as evidence that you told the landlord/agent.
If you deal with an agent, you can also:
You must have the landlord’s prior consent before undertaking non-urgent repairs or maintenance. Ask the landlord to pay you for any costs. Get their consent and agreement to pay in writing.
You can apply for one or more of the following orders if you are having difficulties regarding a non-urgent repair (see above for how to deal with an urgent repair):
For (a), (b) and (c) you must apply within 3 months of the landlord failing to meet your deadline for repairs. For (d) you must apply before the end of the tenancy.
See Factsheet 11: NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal and contact your local Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service for help to make an application.
You must be able to show that:
You can apply for an order that the landlord compensate you for ‘economic loss’. For example:
You must be able to show that your loss was caused by the landlord’s failure to do the repairs.
You also need to show that you attempted to limit the cost to you of the damage (e.g. reducing water damage to your furniture by moving it from under a leak) otherwise the Tribunal may not order compensation.
The Tribunal can order up to $15,000 compensation.
The Tribunal will usually only consider this order when the landlord has not complied with a previous repairs order. You can include it in your application, in case you have to return to the Tribunal later.
The Tribunal may make an order that the rent is, or was, excessive due to a reduction or withdrawal by the landlord of any goods, services or facilities provided with the premises.
For example: The landlord fails to repair a broken-down hot-water system. Apply for an order that the rent was excessive for the time you were without hot water.
If the Tribunal finds the rent excessive, it will make an excessive rent order. It will specify:
See Factsheet 04: Rent increases for how to prepare an excessive-rent case.
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The information in this factsheet:
• is intended as guide to the law and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice
• applies to people who live in, or are affected by, the law as it applies in New South Wales, Australia.
© Tenants' Union of NSW