Emergency repairs post 1 October 2022
Property managers will no doubt be aware that the second phase of the Stage 1 rental reforms came into effect in October last year. In this article, we will be examining how the amendments impacted the emergency repairs provisions of the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 (RTRA Act).
What constitutes emergency repairs?Section 214 of the RTRA Act states that emergency repairs include:
- a burst water service or a serious water service leak;
- a blocked or broken lavatory system;
- 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 to premises;
- a failure or breakdown of an essential service or appliance on premises for hot water, cooking or heating;
- a fault or damage that makes premises unsafe or insecure;
- a fault or damage likely to injure a person, damage property or unduly inconvenience a tenant of premises;
- a serious fault in a staircase, lift or other common area of premises that unduly inconveniences a tenant in gaining access to, or using, the premises.
Prescribed minimum housing standardsFrom 1 September 2023, all new tenancies will be subject to the prescribed minimum housing standards, as determined by the RTRA Act and regulation. The prescribed minimum housing standards will apply to all tenancies from 1 September 2024.
The prescribed minimum housing standards, while not yet prescribed by regulation, may include standards relating to:
- sanitation, drainage, cleanliness and repair of the premises, inclusions or facilities;
- ventilation and insulation;
- protection from damp and its effects;
- construction, condition, structures, safety and situation of the premises, inclusions or facilities;
- the dimensions of rooms in the premises;
- privacy and security;
- provision of water supply, storage and sanitary facilities;
- laundry and cooking facilities;
- freedom from vermin infestation;
- energy efficiency.
Nominated repairers and the Form 18a General Tenancy AgreementLessors must now provide the details of a nominated repairer in Item 18 of the Form 18a General Tenancy Agreement (Form 18a) or provide a written notice to the tenant of the nominated repairer. The nominated repairer may be someone who acts for the lessor to arrange for emergency repairs, or someone who makes emergency repairs.
The Form 18a or written notice must also state whether the nominated repairer is the tenant’s first point of contact for notifying the need for emergency repairs. Item 18.2 of the Form 18a provides that if the nominated repairer is not the first point of contact, then the lessor’s contact details need to be provided.
If a tenant is unable to contact the nominated repairer (or lessor if no nominated repairer is provided as the first point of contact) after making reasonable attempts to do so, or if emergency repairs are not conducted in a reasonable time after notice is given, the tenant may arrange for a suitably qualified person to make the repairs.
In this regard, a tenant is now able to arrange for emergency repairs to a maximum value equal to the amount payable under the Form 18a for four weeks rent. This has been increased from an amount equivalent to two weeks rent prior to the commencement of the amendments on 1 October 2022.
Section 219A of the RTRA Act has also been introduced for property managers to arrange for emergency repairs to be made at the property to a maximum value equal to the amount payable under the Form 18a for four weeks rent. If a property manager arranges for emergency repairs under section 219A, they must inform their lessor client of the action as soon as practicable after taking it.
Varying the PO Form 6In light of the introduction of section 219A of the RTRA Act, and the amendments to section 216, the REIQ recommends that property managers seek instructions from their lessor clients to vary existing PO Form 6 appointments.
Property managers who subscribe to Realworks are able to access new template documents (including a letter to client and Client Instruction and Variation Form) to use in obtaining details of nominated repairers from their lessor clients as well as specific instructions from their lessor clients to confirm the increase in the authorised spend limit for emergency repairs to an amount equal to four weeks rent.
While the RTRA Act now provides that property managers can arrange for emergency repairs to a maximum value equal to four weeks rent, the REIQ recommends that property managers still obtain written confirmation of instructions from their lessor clients.
REIQ members are also urged to seek advice via the REIQ’s Property Management Support Service and/or Legal Advisory Service, or a qualified legal practitioner should they be in any way uncertain as to their obligations regarding emergency repairs and/or complying with their lessor client’s instructions following the amendments to the RTRA Act.
REIQ members with more questions on this topic or others can contact the Property Management Support Service.
 Section 17A of the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008
This article was first published in October 2022.
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