What is classified as an emergency repair?
The Residential Tenancies Act 1994 and standard terms of the Tenancy Agreement specify that emergency repairs are works needed to repair any of the following: -
? A burst water service
? A blocked or broken lavatory service
? A serious roof leak
? A gas leak
? A dangerous electrical fault
? Flooding or serious flood damage
? Serious storm, fire or impact damage
? A failure or breakdown of the gas, electricity or water supply to the premises
? A failure or breakdown of an essential service or appliance on premises for hot water, cooking or heating
? A fault or damage that makes the premises unsafe or insecure
? A fault or damage likely to injure a person, damage property or unduly inconvenience a resident of the premises
? A serious fault in a staircase, lift or other common area or premises that unduly inconveniences a resident in gaining access to, or using, the premises.
Act s 123A - Meaning of "emergency repairs"
Repairs that are not within these categories are considered to be routine repairs.
What should the tenant do if there is a need for emergency repairs?
The tenant must give notice of damage to the lessor/agent or the nominated repairer if one is named in the tenancy agreement, of the need for emergency repairs. (Tenancy Agreement Clause 32)
s 125 - Notice of damage
The tenant can notify the relevant person by speaking to them personally or over the phone.
What should the tenant do if the lessor/agent has not made the emergency repairs?
At no stage should the tenant stop paying rent as a strategy to achieve repairs. Non-payment of rent is a breach of the tenancy agreement and grounds for termination.
The Act allows for tenants to take steps to have the emergency repairs carried out at the lessor's expense, if the lessor/agent or the lessor's nominated repairer cannot be contacted.
s 126 - Tenant may arrange for emergency repairs to be made
There is no requirement under the Act for a Notice to Remedy Breach to be given. However, the tenant may wish to give the lessor/agent a Notice to Remedy Breach and use this notice as evidence of the requirement for emergency repairs if the need arises at a later date i.e. Tribunal hearing.
The tenant may arrange for emergency repairs to be carried out, but only when: -
? The tenant has been unable to notify the lessor/agent or the nominated repairer of the need for emergency repairs; or
? The lessor/agent has not made the repairs within a reasonable time after they were notified.
In these circumstances, the tenant may arrange for the repairs to be done by a person suitably qualified to make the repairs. The costs of the repairs must be no more than the value of 2 weeks rent.
s 127 (1) - Costs of emergency repairs arranged by tenant
The tenant may pay for the repairs themselves and then ask the lessor/agent to reimburse them.
Alternatively, the tenant may ask the lessor/agent to pay the cost of the repairs directly to the repairer.
s 127 (2) - Costs of emergency repairs arranged by tenant
In either case, the tenant must: -
? Write to the lessor/agent about the matter
? Include copies of relevant receipts or invoices for the work done
? Allow the lessor/agent seven clear days to pay for the repairs carried out.
s 127 - Costs of emergency repairs arranged by tenant
Applying to the Tribunal for an order about the cost of emergency repairs
If no payment is made to the tenant within 7 clear days by the lessor/agent an application to the Tribunal may be made.
s 128 - Orders of tribunal about emergency repairs
The application to the Tribunal is an urgent application. Dispute Resolution is not required.
s 231 (5) - Meaning of "urgent application"