Essential Services Defined

Repairs and Maintenance – What is an essential service?

iStock_000002922814_SmallUnder 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;
  • 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 authorised, to undertake the work necessary to carry out the repairs.

    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 including hot water system failures.

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

    If within the prescribed period, the tenant is unable to contact the lessor, 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 perfer 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.