Information that Tenants may find interesting or helpful

Emergency Repairs in a Tenanted Property – Who is Responsible?

What are the rights and responsibilities of Queensland tenants in an emergency situation?

First, you must determine if the situation actually is an emergency or if it is just inconvenient.   There are clear guidelines on what is considered an emergency and what is not (see full list below).

It is worth applying your common sense to the situation – especially if the situation occurs after-hours or on the weekend when high call-out fees are charged by the repairers.  For example, if one toilet blocks in the property at midnight, but there is another toilet, you may be able to wait until the next working day to call the plumber.  Or if a flexi-hose bursts, and you know how to turn off the water at the mains, you may be able to go back to bed and call the agent or plumber in the morning.

Emergency repairs are needed when there is likely to be immediate, significant, damage to the property, or where your safety is at risk, or where there is a breakdown in basic services to the property.

Tenants should try to minimise the risk and/or damage  if it is safe to do so, and if they know how.  For example, turning off the water, gas, or electricity at the mains to the property can prevent further damage and reduce the safety risk to occupants.

The list of what constitutes an emergency has been determined by the Queensland Residential Tenancies Authority.

Emergency repairs are:

  • a burst water service or a serious water service leak
  • a blocked or broken toilet
  • a serious roof leak
  • a gas leak
  • a dangerous electrical fault
  • flooding or serious flood damage
  • serious storm, fire or impact damage
  • a failure or breakdown of the gas, electricity or water supply
  • a failure or breakdown of an essential service or appliance on the property for hot water, cooking or heating
  • a fault or damage that makes the property unsafe or insecure
  • a fault or damage likely to injure a person, damage property or unduly inconvenience a tenant
  • a serious fault in a staircase, lift or other common area of the property that unduly inconveniences a tenant in gaining access to, or using, the property.

All other repairs are considered routine repairs.

As a first step, always try to contact the agent who is managing the property (or the landlord if they do not use an agent).  If you cannot contact them, then you can phone the emergency contacts which are listed on your lease to carry out emergency repairs up to the value of 2 weeks rent.

If you cannot contact either the landlord/agent or the nominated repairer on your lease, you may engage another qualified person to carry out the repairs up to the value of 2 weeks rent.

If the emergency repair was caused by tenant fault, then you should pay for this repair.  If you authorise a repair which is not on the emergency repair list (above), you may be liable for all or part of the cost of this repair.  It is important to understand that you cannot arrange for any routine repairs without written permission.

If the emergency repair is not your fault, then you can either pay the repairer and be reimbursed by your landlord/agent within 7 days, or you can request the repairer to invoice the property manager/landlord directly.  If you do not receive the payment within 7 days, you can make a complaint to the Residential Tenancies Authority who will help you to recover your money.


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RealSmarter is a Brisbane based property management company.  Our aim is to help our clients achieve their wealth goals by ensuring that their investment properties,  and the tenants occupying them, are cared for to a high standard.

Under ‘Articles’ we discuss some of the common issues that come up when we manage rental properties.  We invite you to comment, or ask any questions, and we will provide you with up-to-date, accurate, information.

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Shared accomodation – when you want to move out, but your housemates want to stay

When You Want To Move Out of Shared Accomodation

When two or more people share a rental property and one wants to move out, what should be done?

Firstly, if there is a lease in place, it is important to understand that all people listed on the lease are ‘jointly and severally’ responsible for paying that the rent on this shared accommodation, as well as paying for any damages. This means that anyone listed on the lease can be held responsible for the rent. You cannot just ‘give notice’ and move out without getting signed agreement from ALL parties (i.e. your flatmates and the landlord/agent) or you may still be held accountable for rent.

What you should do?

Step 1.

    1. Discuss with your household that you wish to move out and ask them if they would like to remove you from the lease and take over the responsibility themselves, or if they need a new housemate to replace you.  If they need a new housemate, agree on a timeframe for when your room will be available, who will take responsibility for finding a new housemate, and how this will be done.  Get agreement to this in writing.

Step 2.

    1. Discuss the situation with your landlord or agent. Supply them with a copy of what has been agreed with the housemates.
    1. Your landlord or agent cannot ‘unreasonably’ deny you their consent to transfer the responsibility to the remaining tenants, or to allow you to seek a new housemate. Reasons they could withhold consent would be similar to reasons they would refuse a normal application (e.g. if the remaining flatmates had insufficient income to be able to pay the rent on their own, or the proposed replacement person had poor rental references etc.)

Step 3.

    1. Agree with your housemates (in writing) how any existing bills such as electricity, gas, water, phone, internet, pay tv will be finalised and paid. Also agree on what you will do as far as cleaning the property when you vacate, and perhaps some part-payment towards things such as carpet cleaning which may not be due until the end of the lease. Remember that you may need to remove your name from various utility bills so you do not retain responsibility for them after you vacate the premises.

Step 4.

    1. If a replacement tenant is found, it is a good idea to ask the agent or landlord to inspect the property to ensure there are no outstanding bond issues that you might be held responsible for. This also means that your bond can be simply ‘transferred’ to the new person. If there are bond issues, it is up to the landlord/agent and you and your existing housemates to agree on how this will be handled. (Who will fix it, and at what cost). It may be that a portion of your bond may be withheld to contribute towards damage to the property.

For more information, go to the Residential Tenancy Authority (Queensland).