Maintenance issue or careless tenant?

When a tenant moves into a property, part of the agreement is they are responsible for the care and upkeep of the property, and it needs to be at a certain level of cleanliness.

The landlord meanwhile is expected to maintain the property, ensuring it is safe to live in and everything is in good working order.

However, things do go wrong and issues arise, and some maintenance and repairs may have a question mark of whose responsibility it is to correct it; understandably, neither side wants to pay for something they don’t have.

Disputes can easily be resolved or even avoided when the cause of the issue is established.

As a rule of thumb, if the tenant has caused the issue, it’s the tenant’s responsibility to put it right; if it’s fair wear and tear or a physical issue with the property itself, then it will be the landlord’s responsibility to fix.

Here are some guidelines when looking some common property issues:

Mould

Mould can often be a grey area – in more ways than one!

A build-up of mould can happen for a variety of reasons, and it may not immediately be clear as to what has caused it.

So, you may need to dig a little deeper and look beyond the usual suspect of a leaking pipe in the area. Broken gutters, rising damp and surface water leaking into the property can result in mould, and if this is the cause, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to put right.

But mould can also be caused by thoughtless tenants, such as by not airing the bathroom regularly or getting the carpet wet and not drying it out properly.

Look at ways in which you can avoid mould build up in the first place; in rooms where there is likely to be a lot of moisture build up, such as the bathroom and laundry, make sure they have good ventilation by fitting an extractor fan which automatically comes on with the light switch.

Drains and gutters

Problems with drains may result from trees or cracked pipework; but they can also get blocked if the tenant pours a lot of grease or oil from their cooking down the drain!

If drains or gutters are an issue from wear and tear, or leaves and tree roots etc then it is the landlords responsibility to fix. If it’s the tenant’s fault the drain is blocked, they will need to fix it.

Lightbulbs

Tenants are generally responsible for changing lightbulbs – but within reason. If the lightbulb requires specialist knowledge, or special equipment, the chances are it will be the landlord’s responsibility to change.

Pools

This will need discussing at the start of the tenancy. Generally, the tenant is responsible for everyday maintenance and any associated costs (eg cleaning materials), and the landlord for ensuring the pool equipment, such as an electronic pump are in good working order.

Regular inspections

It’s always important to have regular inspections of a property so any potential problems, such as mould, are dealt with quickly before they become a major issue – tenants don’t always notice issues and sometimes don’t quite get round to telling you about them until the matter is serious.

We are always telling tenants that property inspections aren’t about us checking up on them and having a nosey at their living style, we’re actually ensuring property which we have been entrusted to care for and manage is safe and everything is in good working order. Property inspections are often a good opportunity for tenants to tell us about any concerns they may have, which they haven’t quite got around to telling us about!

If you would like to know more about landlord responsibilities contact us on 02 4956 9777, send us an email to mail@newcastlepropertymanagement.com.au or pop into our Cardiff office for a chat.

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