The responsibility for plumbing repairs and maintenance is a frequent point of contention between landlords and tenants. But both parties have a part to play during a tenancy. The landlord is responsible for ensuring their property is in a safe state of repair and is suitable for tenants. But once a tenant moves in and signed an agreement, responsibility for maintenance is shared.

The requirements around who will take responsibility for the issues that may arise during the tenancy term – and each person’s rights – should be laid out in the Residential Tenancy Agreement.

During the lease term, it is the tenant’s responsibility to take good care of the property and maintain functional aspects.

This includes being diligent in preventing issues from arising. For example, the tenant should keep the property clean and be sure not to flush or wash things down drains that could cause blockages.

How to handle emergency plumbing problems

If an emergency occurs at the property, you should call the landlord or realestate manager to take action.

What is classed as an emergency plumbing problem?

It can be hard to know what defines a plumbing emergency and what can wait until the following day for attention. Sometimes things can go wrong late at night and, as a tenant, you need to make a quick decision about who to contact and what to do.

According to the Residential Tenancies Act, emergency repairs can include:

  • A burst water service or serious water service leak
  • Broken or blocked toilet systems
  • A gas leak
  • A serious roof leak
  • Serious storm, fire or impact damage
  • Burst water pipes
  • Flooding
  • Broken water cylinder

What is classed as a non-emergency repair?
*Leaking tap

Your Residential Tenancy Agreement should include contact information in case of an emergency, including phone numbers, agent numbers and numbers for approved emergency plumbers.

Plumbing maintenance versus plumbing repairs.

Things can get complicated when it’s unclear whether a property problem falls under ‘maintenance’ or ‘repair.’

Generally speaking, ‘maintenance’ refers to fixing things on the property that are seen delay wear and tear and aren’t classed as urgent. Whereas ‘repairs’ typically refer to something that’s broken or damaged and needs to be fixed promptly.

Landlords are generally responsible for maintaining and paying for the property’s structural aspects – things like the roof, foundations and walls, but not decorative features, such as carpeting.

Overall, it’s the tenant’s responsibility to keep the rental property clean and in working order during the lease. The landlord is responsible for ensuring the property is safe and fit for a tenant to live in.

At the end of the day, if you’re renting a property and there’s a major plumbing problem that isn’t your fault, the responsibility lies wholly with the landlord.

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