Difference between urgent and non-urgent repairs

The Residential Tenancies Act 1997 distinguishes between urgent and non-urgent repairs.

All repairs are the landlord’s or owner’s responsibility, but if the tenant or resident caused the damage, the landlord or owner can ask them to arrange or pay for repairs.

Set procedures must be followed when dealing with urgent or non-urgent repairs. Tenants and residents must continue paying rent even when they are waiting for repairs to be done.

Landlords and owners also have a responsibility to respond to repair requests promptly.

If the matter has been heard by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), the tenant or resident can apply for the rent or hiring charges to be paid into VCAT’s Rent Special Account while the issue is sorted out.

It is important for all parties to communicate all information about repairs in writing, and to keep copies for future reference.

For information on repairs relating to sites under a site agreement, view our Repairs under a site agreement page.

Urgent repairs in rental properties

If a tenant or resident requests urgent repairs, the landlord or owner must respond immediately.

Urgent repairs are:

  • burst water service
  • blocked or broken toilet system
  • serious roof leak
  • gas leak
  • dangerous electrical fault
  • flooding or serious flood damage
  • serious storm or fire damage
  • failure or breakdown of any essential service or appliance provided by a landlord or agent for hot water, water, cooking, heating, or laundering
  • failure or breakdown of the gas, electricity or water supply
  • any fault or damage in the premises that makes the premises unsafe or insecure
  • an appliance, fitting or fixture that is not working properly and causes a substantial amount of water to be wasted
  • a serious fault in a lift or staircase.

Information for tenants and residents who require urgent repairs

If you request urgent repairs, your landlord or agent must respond without delay. There are a number of steps you can take to have an item repaired:

  • If a repair is urgent and you are not getting a prompt response from your landlord or agent, you can authorise the repair for up to $1800.
  • Keep all receipts and a record of your attempts to arrange the urgent repairs.
  • You can then give your landlord or agent a notice asking them to pay you back for the cost of the urgent repairs. They have 14 days to pay from the date they receive the notice. You can use the following forms:

If your landlord or agent does not complete the urgent repairs and they are going to cost more than $1800, or you cannot afford to pay for them, you can apply to VCAT, which will hear the application within two business days. VCAT can then order your landlord or agent to arrange the repairs.

If you organise the repairs, and your landlord refuses to reimburse you, you can apply to VCAT, which will hear the application within two business days.

Last updated: 23/04/2014

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