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What happens if your rental property gets damaged?

By George Hadgelias

Properties will never stay new forever and the truth is that damage can occur even with the best tenants. While wear and tear will occur naturally as the house ages, damage can cause friction between tenants and landlords.

What constitutes as ‘everyday wear and tear’ can be a very grey area. It can be difficult to decipher what damage is whose responsibility.

Whether you’re renting through a private landlord or with the assistance of a property manager, here’s what you need to know if the property you rent gets damaged.

If the damage occurred before you move in

So you’ve signed a lease on a property only to find there is damage already present? There are ways to make sure you don’t get stung with the repair bill.

Here’s our guide:

1. Thoroughly complete your condition report

A condition report is a form you fill out when you first move into a rental property. You basically go around the house and note down any existing damage. It’s important that this is filled out correctly, both to protect you and the landlord.

For example, if there’s a sizeable hole in one of the walls, you’d want to make a note of that so the landlord doesn’t assume that you did the damage and tries to take the repairs out of your bond.

Make sure the landlord signs the form acknowledging any pre-existing damage.

Go around the house and take note of any existing damage.

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2. Report on urgent repairs

It’s also important to take note of issues like corrosion and mould – problems that may escalate over time – so the landlord has an opportunity to rectify these problems before they get worse.

This isn’t just a courtesy on the part of the tenant, according to the tenant’s act in most states in Australia you’re required to notify your landlord of urgent repairs. Be sure to check the applicable act for your state to determine your responsibilities.

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While you’re living in the house:

If you’ve accidentally damaged the house then chances are you’ll need to have it repaired.

Here are our tips on what to do next:

1. Report any issues as soon as possible

Any ongoing issues should be reported on regularly. For instance, if you have a persistent mould problem you should keep your landlord informed. Mould could create ongoing expensive structural issues for the home’s owner and it could also affect the health of the residents of the property.

Structural issues like this are generally the responsibility of the landlord. There is no reason not to keep the landlord informed of issues like this so make sure you stay on top of it.

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2. Keep copies of rental inspection forms

Most landlords are very reasonable but it’s important to protect yourself. Make sure you keep copies of any rental inspection forms so that you have a paper trail of your communication with your landlord. If there are any serious disputes in the future, it’s important to have evidence of being a compliant tenant.

3. Keep a logbook of rental inspections

Consumer Affairs Victoria states that it is the landlord’s responsibility and right to request a house inspection twice a year. Keep a log of these and any issues and/or solutions that arose out of them.

When moving out:

If you’ve bumped a wall or broken a window while moving out of a home there are steps to take to make sure you get your bond back.

1. Make repairs before the final inspection

Fix what you can yourself and call in the professionals for the rest. It’s best to do this before the landlord does their final inspection. If you can flawlessly fix any damage done to the property, you’re much more likely to get your bond back.

2. Locate your copy of the condition report

This is where the condition report comes in handy.

If your landlord is accusing you of causing damage to the property and you know it was pre-existing damage, it should be noted in the condition report and should have been signed by the landlord.

3. Know the fine print

Each state in Australia is slightly different and disputes between landlords and tenants vary.

The relevant authority in your state will have more detailed information.

Click here for more information

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