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Who is responsible for damages in a rental property?

By Jamil Allouche

In a perfect world, relationships between landlords and tenants would always be seamless. The reality, however, is that sometimes things get complicated as lines can be blurred about who is responsible for what.

Working with a professional, experienced agency will minimise issues between landlords and tenants, but there are also a few basics that can help end the 'not my problem' debate.

Ask how and why did the damage occur?

Determining how and why damages happen can help you plan a course of action for repair. Consider mould, for example. Mould could be the fault of the landlord if it grew due to problems with the property, such as a leak or a lack of ventilation, but the tenant could also be at fault if the mould grew due to unhygienic conditions in the property.

A lot of damages are murky like this. A stair railing might break out of the wall because it had been worn down by past tenants and never fixed, or because current residents threw a party and a guest ripped it out. Drains might be blocked because the landlord has failed to fix it, or because tenants do not take care to dispose of food waste properly.

How can you mitigate potential disputes? Record keeping can go a long way. When you move into a property, don't rush it. Walk through and inspect everything carefully, and be sure to take photographs as well as written notes about when damages were observed. This goes for everything from marks on the wall to larger damages like a faulty dishwasher.

The best thing to do, however, is work with a trusted agency. At Ray White Brunswick, we can assure you that our properties are always in top condition before new tenants move in. We keep careful records and photographs of the state of our rental properties, but we also encourage all of our tenants to keep their own.

Is the damage urgent?

Some issues are more straightforward than others and require urgent repairs. According to the Residential Tenancies Act 1997, urgent repairs in a rental property include:

  • Flooding or serious flood damage
  • Burst water service
  • Major roof leak
  • Dangerous electrical fault
  • Broken or blocked toilet system
  • Serious storm or fire damage
  • Gas, electric, or water supply breakdown
  • Serious faults in lifts or stairs
  • A failure of any appliance or service provided by a landlord that is used for water, hot water, heating, cooking or laundering
  • Any fault of a premise that makes it unsafe or insecure
  • Gas leak
  • Flood or serious flood damage
  • A faulty appliance that is causing substantial water wastage

In these instances, your landlord is legally required to provide care straight away.

You can minimise most damages disputes by working with an experienced, professional landlord who will perform their due diligence to you as a renter. At Ray White Brunswick, our landlords are trained property managers, who will make sure any repairs in your apartment that fall on us are completed well and in a timely manner. Most of all, however, we'll make sure you have fewer damages to deal with in the first place by ensuring you move into a pristine rental.

To rent in Brunswick or surrounding suburbs, check out what we have on offer today!

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