I have asked for repairs to be done to the house I rent. Nothing’s happened. What can I do?

It is important you do more than just ask. If the repairs are not urgent, you should also give your landlord, or your landlord’s agent, written notice specifying the damage. Your notice can, for example, simply be a letter addressed to your landlord or your landlord’s agent.

If you do this and repairs are not carried out within 14 days after the day you gave your notice, you can apply in writing to the Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria to investigate whether your landlord is failing to maintain the premises in good repair.

The Director has to investigate and negotiate the carrying out of the repairs and give you a written report.

If you consider the arrangements made are unsatisfactory, you can then apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal for an order requiring your landlord to do the repairs. This is commonly known as the breach of duty notice procedure.

If repairs are urgent* – for example, there is storm damage or the hot water service has failed – you can organise the repairs, if you have first taken reasonable steps to arrange for your landlord, or your landlord’s agent, to do the work and you cannot get one or the other of them to do so.

If you attend to urgent repairs, you need to give your landlord, or your landlords’ agent, 14 days written notice of them and the cost. Your landlord then has to reimburse you for the reasonable cost of the repairs or $1,800 inclusive of GST, whichever is less.

[*urgent repairs commonly include: a broken water service; blocked or broken lavatory system; serious roof leak; gas leak; dangerous electrical fault; flooding or serious flood damage; serious storm or fire damage; a failure or breakdown of any essential service or appliance provided for hot water, water, cooking, heating or laundering by a landlord in rented premises; a failure or breakdown of gas, electricity, or water supply to rented premises; an appliance, fitting or fixture provided by a landlord that uses or supplies water and that is malfunctioning in a way that results in a substantial amount of water being wasted; any fault or damage that makes rented premises unsafe or insecure; a serious fault in a lift or staircase.]

I signed a lease to rent a house along with some other people. It’s not working out. I want to leave. How can I get my name off the lease?

You can only get your name off the lease if the other tenants and the landlord agree. If everyone is agreeable, the remaining time to run on your lease can be transferred to the other tenants.  You should obtain written confirmation from the agent that the transfer has been completed.

Your landlord may be entitled to ask you to reimburse the expense incurred. If you have contributed to a bond, you will need to negotiate with the other tenants about a refund of your contribution.

If I leave before my fixed term residential lease ends, what happens?

You have agreed to rent the property for a fixed term and are bound by your lease. If you leave before the end of your fixed term, your landlord’s agent will endeavour to re-let the property. You must continue to pay the rent, in the meantime.

You will have to reimburse your landlord for the expense incurred in reletting the property earlier than would otherwise have been the case. Expenses may include: a letting fee, advertising and marketing, and rental database checks on applicants who want to lease the property.

The agent wants to take money from my bond. I think they shouldn’t. What can I do?

If you are unable to come to an agreement with the agent, you could suggest the agent apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to determine the issue.

You can also apply to the Tribunal for a refund of your bond, if you are unable to come to an agreement with your landlord.


Tenants FAQ courtesy of the Real Estate Institute Victoria