When something goes wrong in your rental.


With the right property management and the right renters in place, owning a rental property should be relatively smooth sailing.

The rent will be paid on time, maintenance issues will be addressed quickly, the value of the asset will be protected, and the people who call your property home will enjoy a positive experience.

But occasionally things can and do go wrong in rental properties, so let’s look at what happens should something go awry…

Repairs

Regardless of the age of the rental property, there will be times when it needs maintenance or a repair, and for the owner, it’s part and parcel of having an investment property.

After all, it’s just a fact of life that things will occasionally break or something might require tending to in order to prevent future damage.

When it comes to repairs and maintenance, there’s a process involved, with each party having key responsibilities, and it tends to work like this…

The repair process

Under the rental agreement, the renter is required to act quickly to notify the property manager if something needs fixing. 

This is to ensure the problem doesn’t escalate into something bigger, and it also protects the renter’s rights to enjoy a property that’s in good repair.

The renter should notify the property manager in writing of the problem. Then the property manager reaches out to the owner to seek direction and approval to undertake the required works.

The property manager may also flag something in need of repair at the outset of the agreement or during routine inspections.  

It’s important to note that the owner also has a responsibility here. 

By law, they are required to undertake these repairs in a timely manner and comply with entry rules when it comes to organising people to attend to the issue.

Is it urgent or non-urgent?

It’s also important to note there are two different types of repairs:

Routine repairs – which tend to be general issues that occur around a home and need to be dealt with in a timely manner.

Emergency repairs – Emergency repairs relate to issues that affect the liveability of the property, and they need to be dealt with quickly.

The following issues would fall under emergency repairs:

  • 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
  • And more

Damage

While general repairs and maintenance are the responsibility of the owner, what if the rental occupier damages the property?

In this instance, the law states the renter is responsible for remedying that damage, even if it was accidental.

In other words, if a renter accidentally throws a ball through a window and breaks it, they are responsible for having that window fixed and returned to its original condition.

If the damage is not fixed, a portion of the renter’s bond may be deducted at the end of the rental agreement.

What if the problem is something bigger?

Occasionally the problem at a rental property might require a more involved process than a general repair.

For example, a roof that frequently leaks might ultimately require replacing, or a pool that’s aging and leaking might require resurfacing.

Although needed, these types of repairs have the potential to disrupt the peace and quiet enjoyment of the property for the renter residing there.

In this instance the owner has a couple of options:

  • They can continue ‘patching the problem’ until the end of the rental agreement and then have the issue dealt with while the property is vacant.  
  • They can work with the renter to have the works completed. This might involve providing some sort of concession such as a rent reduction to the renter while the works are undertaken.

Late or unpaid rent

Under the rental agreement, paying the rent on time is a legal responsibility of the rental occupier. If it’s late or unpaid, they are in breach of the agreement.

This is where a good property manager comes into their own, with systems and processes in place to quickly identify that rent is late and remedy the problem.

When selecting a property manager, the owner should ask them about their processes for handling late or unpaid rent.

Unforeseen damage

Occasionally a problem at a rental property might be beyond the control of the owner, renter or property manager.

Say for example a natural disaster occurs, such as a flood, cyclone, or bushfire. These are all prime examples of why both the owner and the renter should have proper insurance.

In the owner’s case this insurance extends to both landlord and building insurance, which potentially covers the property for damage and lost rental income.

Meanwhile, the renter should have contents insurance to cover them for damage or loss of their personal possessions.

In the event of a natural disaster, the property manager should be notified. They will conduct an initial assessment, ascertain if the property is livable, and report back to the owner regarding the damage so the insurance process can begin.

A good property manager is paramount

In each of the above examples, a good property manager is critical. They help handle repairs and maintenance in a timely manner, ensure all parties adhere to their legal obligations, and assist should something go wrong.

Most importantly, they keep the lines of communication open, working proactively with the owner and the renter to ensure any problems are dealt with quickly.

How we can help

Our experienced property managers pride themselves on establishing great relationships with both rental occupiers and owners.

We manage every property as if it were our own and you can learn more about our property management services here.

Alternatively, if you are looking to rent a property, you can view the properties we currently have available here.