Is It The Landlord Or The Tenants Responsibility?- Jhai Mitchell

Recently I’ve received a num­ber of enquir­ies from pro­spect­ive Land­lords regard­ing repairs and main­ten­ance oblig­a­tions of the ten­ant and land­lord. The fol­low­ing inform­a­tion may be of interest gen­er­ally and is sourced from the Ten­ancy Hand­book pub­lished by the NSW Office of Fair Trading.

Gen­eral Responsibilities

The land­lord must make sure that the premises is reas­on­ably clean and fit to live in at the start of the ten­ancy. The land­lord must then main­tain the premises in a reas­on­able state of repair considering:

  • the age of the premises
  • the amount of rent the ten­ant is pay­ing, and
  • the pro­spect­ive life of the premises.

This does not mean that the premises must be leased in per­fect con­di­tion, or that the land­lord must imme­di­ately attend to every small mat­ter dur­ing the ten­ancy. The state of the prop­erty and level of repair expec­ted should be in pro­por­tion to the age of the premises and the amount of rent.


Urgent Repairs

An urgent repair is:

  • a burst water service
  • a blocked or broken lav­at­ory system
  • a ser­i­ous roof leak[sam id=41 codes=’true’]
  • a gas leak
  • a dan­ger­ous elec­trical fault
  • flood­ing or ser­i­ous flood damage
  • ser­i­ous storm or fire damage
  • a fail­ure or break­down of the gas, elec­tri­city or water sup­ply to the premises
  • a fail­ure or break­down of any essen­tial ser­vice on the premises for hot water, cook­ing, heat­ing or laundering
  • any fault or dam­age that causes the premises to be unsafe or not secure

From 1 Septem­ber 2006 ten­ants can spend up to $1,000 on urgent repairs (up from $500) and should be reim­bursed within 14 days by the land­lord. The land­lord or agent must first be given a reas­on­able oppor­tun­ity to arrange the work, or if they can­not be reached, the ten­ant should use a qual­i­fied trades­per­son nom­in­ated in the agreement.


Respons­ib­il­it­ies Of Ten­ants

Under the law the ten­ant must keep the premises in a reas­on­able state of clean­li­ness, hav­ing regard to the con­di­tion of the premises at the start of the ten­ancy. If the premises includes a yard, lawns and gar­dens, they must also be kept neat and tidy by the ten­ant. The ten­ant must not inten­tion­ally or neg­li­gently cause or per­mit dam­age to the premises. Neg­li­gence means lack of care or attention.

A ten­ant is also respons­ible for dam­age caused by other occu­pants of the premises.



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Jhai Mitchell


Jhai is the Internet Marketing Business Development Manager for Elders Toongabbie and Kings Langley. He has been consistently quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald and Real Estate Business online. Visit his blog at

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