As a tenant, you have the right to the quiet enjoyment of your rental property. However, especially if you have a long-term lease, or are renting an older property, your landlord could request a repair or renovation in the middle of your rental period.
On its face, this may be an exciting development. A renovation will update your space and perhaps add to the overall enjoyment of the property. However, depending on the renovation the landlord has in mind, it could be disruptive to you as a tenant.
If you are a new tenant, before moving into a property, it’s always good to take a tour of the home with the landlord and take note of anything that needs fixing or updating before you arrive. If a landlord intends to update the space they should make it clear what they plan to do and how disruptive the work may be.
What a landlord’s responsibilities are
A landlord is not required to fix any damage you cause. If they do wish to claim compensation from a tenant, they must try to limit the cost of any replacement or repair.
A landlord should, however, offer reasonable repairs depending on the age of the premises and the amount of rent you pay. This may ultimately lead to a larger renovation.
A landlord agrees to:
- Provide a ‘reasonably’ clean premises that is fit for occupation before you move in
- Ensure the appliances are in working order
- Provide ‘reasonable’ repairs to maintain the premises
- Provide any repairs referred to in the original condition report and respond to requests in a timely manner
- Follow the rules regarding proper notice periods for rental inspections, etc.
- Respect the tenant’s rights to the quiet enjoyment of the property
A renovation project may be taken by the landlord at any time and may include both urgent and non-urgent repairs.
Non-urgent repairs and renovations
Renovations, by their nature, will generally disrupt a tenant’s “right to the quiet enjoyment of the property”. That’s why it’s important if a landlord wishes to perform a renovation, to make sure the tenant is made aware of the alterations and how it might affect them.
Be sure to discuss repairs or renovations with your landlord, either during the initial inspection or before any cosmetic changes to the property are carried out. Renovations can include anything from simply adding a new coat of paint to something as drastic as removing a wall or altering the layout of the property’s interior.
Since renovations can affect what items or rooms within the property can be used, be sure to get a clear idea of what renovations the landlord will perform and how long they will take. Also ask about when the renovations will take place, and ask that your landlord gives you enough time to prepare for the disruption.
If your landlord is conducting a rather extensive renovation, you may need to temporarily move out of your home. If this happens, you can stop paying rent from the day you vacate until the day you return. You will be responsible for paying for your replacement accommodation and/or other expenses (such as meals or transportation).
Landlords aren’t obliged to help their tenants find or pay for alternative accommodations. However, it may be advisable to negotiate suitable arrangements with them and to outline those arrangements in writing before agreeing to the renovation.
There’s always a chance that an emergency situation may arise and urgent repairs to the property need to be dealt with quickly.
Urgent repairs may include serious storm or fire damage, broken pipes, a gas leak, serious roof leaks, or flood damage, among other issues. Should you experience a serious problem with the property, it’s important to contact the landlord immediately. Make sure to follow up with a letter that outlines the issue clearly. Keep a copy and record all conversations or correspondence as proof that you informed your landlord of the issue.
Communication is key
Whether the repair or renovation is urgent or not, it’s important to have a good open line of communication with your landlord. That way, the responsibilities of each party are clear. If repairs or renovations are needed/requested, the process of getting the work done is transparent and stress-free.
Many landlords are choosing to run their rental properties through online platforms like Instarent. These digital solutions provide real-time chat options so you and your landlord can share news and information related to the property. Rental agreements and monthly payments can also be sent through the platform. This helps create digital records of the relationship between the tenant and landlord so that each party has everything easy to access and in one place.
Whether you’re a tenant or a landlord, Instarent offers peace of mind and full transparency for rental properties in Australia. Find out more about how Instarent takes the stress out of property rental today.