When your landlord won’t make a repair

What can you do if your landlord or property manager won't make a repair?

Cracked window

We moved into our rental in November 2016. The property manager told us 2 broken windows would be fixed when we moved in. Despite numerous requests, the windows still haven’t been repaired. Another winter is coming so we’d really like the problem resolved. What can we do?

You don’t have to suffer another winter with broken windows. If the repairs are urgent, or the broken windows are a danger and likely to cause injury to you or damage to the property, you can get them fixed and ask the landlord to pay the cost. The landlord must reimburse you, as long as you’ve made reasonable efforts to advise them of the problem. Take photos and keep paperwork as evidence of the work done.

For non-urgent repairs – for example, there’s a crack in the window but the glass is stable – we recommend you issue your landlord with a 14-day notice to fix. Template notices are available on the Tenancy Services website.

If the windows haven’t been fixed within 14 days, you can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for a work order. If there’s anything else in need of repair, add this to the notice to fix too.

You’re not entitled to stop paying rent while you’re waiting for the landlord to do the repairs. However, the tribunal can order a landlord to reduce the rent until repairs are done. The landlord can also be required to pay compensation.

In a recent tribunal case, a property management company was given 3 weeks to fix a leaking shower, rotten floorboards, damaged carpet and a broken window latch. The company was also ordered to pay $1300 compensation to the tenants and reduce the rent by $85 a week until the repair work was done.

The tenants had told the company the shower was leaking, causing damage to the carpet and floorboards in an adjoining bedroom. The property manager’s efforts to repair the shower hadn’t fixed the problem. However, when the tenants continued raising the issue, they were effectively told to leave if they weren’t happy.

The tribunal found the tenants had done everything they should to keep the manager informed of the problem and were entitled to a partial refund of their rent as compensation for the manager’s failure to get it fixed.

Tenancy Tribunal

The Residential Tenancies Act requires landlords to keep rental properties in a reasonable state of repair.

The Tenancy Tribunal can order a landlord to repair damage or do maintenance to their rental property. These are called work orders. Work orders can also allow tenants to get repairs and maintenance done themselves and charge the landlord for the cost.

Information about how to apply to the tribunal is available on the Tenancy Services website. It costs $20.44 for each application but if you’re successful, you can claim back the application fee.

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