Tag Archive for: emergency repairs

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.