“Our oven has stopped working. We’ve sent a couple of emails and filled out a form online, but keep being told that the agent is waiting on the landlord to get back to us. How long should we have to wait? Our agent informed us that this isn’t an ‘emergency,’ as the stovetop is still working. Is that correct?” – Vanessa
Vanessa, we asked Managing Director for PPM Group, Debbie Palmer for her insight into your question:
“Hi Vanessa, this is a common scenario that we hear from many tenants, so you are not alone,” Debbie said.
“As a tenant you have the right to a well-maintained and safe home. It can sometimes be challenging for property managers to quickly respond to tenant requests as they are simply acting on behalf of the landlord and need to take instructions. I am concerned that the property manager has stated that “It is not an emergency repair” as in many states of Australia, the legislation clearly outlines an example of an emergency is ‘a failure or breakdown of an essential service or appliance on the premises for hot water, cooking or heating.’
Debbie said tenancy legislation is always open to interpretation and is never black and white.
“Even if this matter was taken to the Tribunal Courts there could be several outcomes. An oven may not be considered essential as you can cook on the stove, but you could argue that it is essential if you cook a lamb roast each night or are having a special dinner party coming up where you need the essential service of your oven,” she said.
Debbie offers the following advice to anyone experiencing this situation:
1. First and foremost, don’t get defensive and annoyed with your property manager. Write a well thought out email expressing how it is affecting you and request that it is rectified within a set time frame and include some compassion for the role the property manager has to do – they will appreciate that most. The property manager can then escalate this to the landlord. Yes, there are some property managers who don’t give tenant requests the priority they need, but the majority of property managers are often as frustrated as the tenant in the landlord not responding.
2. I would highlight that legislation states that this is an emergency repair. Some States have breach notices to request important things to be actioned or have mediation services.
3. You could also request a reduction in rent for the period of time ‘in waiting’… It is often how the property manager communicates the importance of a request to the landlord that determines the outcome.
Good luck Vanessa… and I am sure you are going to enjoy your lamb roast once the oven is working again.”