What are the Essential Services Defined?

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On July 1st, 2013 the Residential Tenancies Act changed and the changes apply to all landlords whether their property is managed privately or by a Property Manager. There are over 100 changes and they will affect how you or your Agent manages your property.

This is our second ‘Did You Know?..’ email. These emails will keep you informed of the changes and what you need to do to remain within the law.

Repairs and Maintenance – What is an essential service?

Under the new legislation Section 43 deals with changes to and definitions regarding repairs and maintenance and definitions of essential services.

The Amended Act now clearly defines an urgent repair and essential services as well as defining a suitable repairer.

The legislation now provides for a prescribed period within which urgent repairs must be arranged.

Urgent repairs are defined as repairs to the premises that are:
• Necessary for the supply or restoration of an essential service;
• To avoid exposing a person to the risk of injury;
• To avoid exposing the property to damage; and
• Causing the tenant undue hardship or inconvenience.
Essential services are defined in the Act as:
• Electricity;
• Gas;
• A functioning refrigerator, but only if it is provided with the premises;
• Sewerage, septic tank or other waste water management; and
• Water, including the supply of hot water.
A suitable repairer is defined as a person who is suitably qualified, trained or, if necessary under any written law, licensed or otherwise authorized, to undertake the work necessary to carry out the repairs.

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Within the ‘prescribed period’ (either 24 or 48 hours), the lessor (landlord or Landlord’s agent) is to contact a suitable repairer to make an appointment to conduct the repairs.

For essential services the prescribed period is 24 hours. An example of an essential repair is blocked sewerage, gas or electrical faults, and includes hot water system failures.

For urgent repairs the prescribed period is 48 hours. An example of an urgent repair would be repairs to an oven or minor leaks in the ceiling.

If the tenant is unable to contact the lessor within the prescribed period, or having notified the lessor of the need for the repair, the lessor fails to make the necessary arrangements, the tenant may arrange for the repairs by a suitable repairer to the minimum extent necessary to affect those repairs.

If the tenant becomes entitled to arrange for the repairs themselves and arranges for a suitable repairer to undertake the repairs, the lessor must, as soon as practicable after the repairs are done, reimburse the tenant for any reasonable expense incurred by the tenant in arranging for and paying for those repairs.

If you have ‘suitable repairers’ you prefer to use in an emergency then give the tenant or your Property Manager a list with their emergency contact numbers to ensure that you have peace of mind in the event of an essential service or urgent repair.

For more information you can also visit the Department of Commerce Website.

Our ‘Did you know?’… No. 3 is all about The New Prescribed Lease Agreement.

Thanks for your time.

About Gai Kroczek

Gai is the Owner/Manager of Total Care Property Management together with Bernie Kroczek of Bernie Kroczek Real Estate. Gai has been in Real Estate for over 20 years and runs a professional Property Management team utilising the latest technology to assist owners in maximising their investment while also assisting tenants.

Gai is also the web designer and maintains all the office technology keeping abreast of all the many changes and implementing them to make sure our owners get the best possible service.

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