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Natural disasters and urgent repairs

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With the Bush Fire Danger Period starting from 1 October and the wild weather and flooding already experienced across NSW this year, it’s important to be prepared and know what you need to do if your tenancy is affected by a natural disaster.

Urgent repairs are often required after damage has been done to a property following a natural disaster, but urgent repairs may also be required outside of these extraordinary events.

This edition of The Letterbox focuses on natural disasters and urgent repairs and the role tenants, landlords and agents play.

 

Answers to your questions on natural disasters and urgent repairs

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Question: What happens if the property I rent out is destroyed or has become totally uninhabitable?

Answer: If the property has been destroyed or is unfit to live in, the lease can effectively end. Speak with your tenant to see if you can jointly agree to sign documentation to end the lease. If this isn't possible, you can issue the tenant with a notice to immediately vacate the property as it's no longer habitable.

Fair Trading's tenancy complaint service can help you communicate with the tenant if you wish to end a lease under these circumstances.

You can find more information and answers to your questions on the Natural disasters Information for landlords page on our website.
 
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Question: What should I do if the house I'm renting is damaged in a natural disaster?

Answer: You should notify your landlord or agent as soon as possible so they can inspect the property and arrange for repairs.

Serious storm, fire or flood damage is considered an urgent repair and should be done as soon as possible.

If the property has been severely damaged, take steps to ensure your safety and contact the relevant emergency services if you require assistance.
 
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Question: How much notice does a landlord have to give to access the property for repairs?

Answer: This depends on the urgency of the repairs.

For ordinary repairs or to carry out maintenance of a property, a landlord or agent must provide at least 2 days' notice.

To carry out urgent repairs, such as those following a natural disaster, a landlord or agent doesn't need to give a minimum period of notice before they access the property to carry out that repair.

You can read more about natural disasters and privacy when renting for tenants on our website.
 
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Question: I have a repair that needs to be done and is listed on my residential tenancy agreement as an urgent repair. Can I carry out the repairs without notifying my agent first?

Answer: If urgent repairs are required, you should notify your landlord or agent right away. Tenants are obligated to provide their landlord or agent a reasonable opportunity to get repairs done.

If your landlord or agent doesn't address the urgent repair within a reasonable time, check your tenancy agreement for the details of a nominated tradesperson you can contact. If there isn't one listed, you may be able to arrange for the work to be done by a licensed tradesperson and be reimbursed by the landlord (but only up to $1,000).

If you're having trouble seeking reimbursement or getting an urgent repair done, Fair Trading's tenancy complaint service can help.

You can read more about getting repairs done on our website.
 

If you can't find an answer to your question, give us a call on 13 32 20.

If you have a problem with a tenant, landlord or agent that you can't resolve, remember you can lodge a complaint online to use our free tenancy complaint service.
 

Tenancy Tales from the tenancy complaint service

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A tenant had an issue with sewage flowing through the backyard of their property which flooded the bathroom and laundry. As a result, the tenant was unable to use the backyard and at times, the toilet or shower.

The tenant contacted their agent and landlord and attempted to resolve the issue for over a month before lodging a complaint with Fair Trading.

Fair Trading intervened on behalf of the tenant and was successful in negotiating a rent reduction per week until repairs were completed. The repairs were completed the next day and the rent reduction was backdated to when the sewage problem started.

Furthermore, Fair Trading was able to educate the real estate agent on their responsibilities, noting that this issue is an urgent repair under the Residential Tenancies Act 2010.
 

OK consumers - it's time to take action!

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If you have a top loader washing machine and it is a Samsung, you need to check the model number NOW!

A Government recall has been issued to Samsung regarding six top loader washing machine models:

  • SW75V9WIP/XSA
  • SW65V9WIP/XSA
  • SW80SPWIP/XSA
  • WA85GWGIP/XSA
  • SW70SPWIP/XSA
  • WA85GWWIP/XSA.

These machines pose a fire risk as moisture can penetrate the electrical connectors within the machine causing a fire hazard.

If you own one of the six listed machines, you are entitled to elect either a rework, replacement (with a Samsung washing machine that is not subject to a product safety recall) or refund. You should contact the Samsung Product Safety Hotline on 1800 239 655 (8am – 8pm, 7 days a week) or lodge your details with Samsung online at www.samsung.com/au/washingmachinerecall
 

Share your experience buying property off the plan

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Have you bought property off the plan in NSW? Or do you know someone who has experienced doing so?

A new Fair Trading survey encourages people to share their experiences and raise any issues they encountered while buying property off the plan. The survey will help the NSW Government to assess the effectiveness of the current system and review the protections in place for buyers and sellers.

To find out more and access the survey, visit our Buying property off the plan page.

For key information to support your decision about buying off the plan, check out the Buying property section on our website. You can also read the media release: Public Feedback Sought on Off the Plan Sunset Clauses.
 

Upcoming events

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NSW Fair Trading offers free community education seminars across NSW. Stay informed with Fair Trading's events and seminars on tenancy topics for Real Estate Agents, Self-managing Landlords and Strata.


Events are coming up for self-managing landlords in Moree (7 October) and Bexley/Kingsgrove (14 October) and real estate agents in Moree (7 October). 

Register to attend a Fair Trading event
 

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