The Residential Tenancies Act 1997 distinguishes between urgent and non-urgent repairs.
The landlord or agent must respond immediately if a tenant requests urgent repairs. These 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 for hot water, water, cooking, heating, or laundering
- failure or breakdown of the gas, electricity or water supply
- any fault or damage 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
- any fault or damage that makes rented premises unsafe or insecure
- a serious fault in a lift or staircase.
For all other repairs, follow the non-urgent repairs process:
- The tenant should request the repair in writing by email, letter or a Notice to landlord of rented premises (Word, 1.9MB).
- Gather all necessary information for the non-urgent repair, to prevent delays and potential disputes.
- Maintain communication with the landlord. Record (in writing or electronically) all contact with them in case there are questions over your responsibility to advise them or your authority to undertake repairs.
When a landlord wants to do their own repairs to the property:
- the landlord must give the tenant the required notice and keep them informed
- ensure the landlord is aware of their legal obligations regarding notice and entering a property
- remind landlords that certain repairs can only be done by licensed tradespeople; for example, electrical, gas or swimming pool repairs
- all repairs should be of an acceptable standard.
If a landlord says ‘no’ to a tenant’s request for a non-urgent repair
Make sure the landlord is aware of the consequences of their decision. If the landlord refuses to carry out non-urgent repairs, the tenant may ask us to inspect the property and later, make an application to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). The landlord may be liable for additional expenses, such as a fee for the property manager attending the VCAT hearing and compensation to the tenant.
Replacement of items
Sometimes items in rental properties need to be replaced - for example, an oven or heater. An identical replacement is not always an option and an alternative item may need to be installed.
The landlord does not have to replace an item in a rental property with an identical item - for example, if the same product is available in a different brand.
However, before the landlord decides on a replacement, the property manager should inform them of possible consequences if the replacement item significantly increases running costs for a tenant. For example, if a gas heater is replaced with an electric heater, there may be a significant increase in running costs.
It is important for the landlord or property manager to communicate with the tenant about the proposed replacement and any additional running costs. This could prevent a dispute being taken to VCAT.
Replacement water appliances, fittings and fixtures must meet minimum water efficiency ratings. For more information, view Efficient water appliances, fittings and fixtures.
Gas appliance safety
Gas appliances, such as heaters and stoves, should be properly maintained or they may pose health risks such as carbon monoxide poisoning.
Under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997, a landlord must ensure rented premises are maintained in good repair. Good repair includes all appliances provided by the landlord as part of the tenancy agreement. These appliances must be safe to use and properly maintained.
Landlords should ensure that:
- tenants are provided with a copy of the manufacturers' instructions
- only a licensed gasfitter performs gasfitting work
- all appliances are safe for use before letting or re-letting a property
- all appliances, pipework and flue systems are installed and maintained correctly
- pipes are correctly sealed if appliances are removed
- all safety checks and details of work done on gas installations are recorded and certificates of compliance obtained when required.
Failure to ensure that appliances are in good repair can cause property damage, serious injury or death.
Energy Safe Victoria recommends gas heaters be serviced at least every two years. For more information, visit the Landlords and tenancy page on the Energy Safe Victoria website.
A gas leak is an urgent repair and must be fixed immediately. For more information, view Urgent repairs.
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