Who Is Responsible For Clogged Drain? Tenant or Landlord?
MAY 14, 2022
If you’re renting a property you (the tenant) are responsible for calling any maintenance issues, including blocked drains, to the attention of the landlord and/or real estate agency who manages your property as soon as possible. You may also need to notify your Strata Building Manager if you are renting an apartment.
However, when you do bring the blocked drain to the attention of the landlord, who is responsible for its repair and the cost to repair it?
A landlord must make sure the property is in a good state of repair before a tenant moves in. Landlords also have a responsibility to maintain the property throughout the tenancy agreement.
Tenants must ensure they’re responsible for preventing damage and bringing attention to any maintenance issues whilst they’re renting the property.
In NSW, the Department of Fair Trading says: “The tenant must have written permission from the landlord, including the agreement on reimbursement, from the landlord, unless the repair is an urgent repair. The tenant should request the repair in writing to the landlord explaining what needs fixing. Even when repairs are not completed, a tenant should never stop paying the rent.”
Urgent repairs mean work that’s needed to repair any of the following:
- Failure or breakdown of the gas, electricity, or water supply
- Failure or breakdown of any essential service for hot water, cooking, heating, cooling or laundering
- Fault or damage that makes the premises unsafe or insecure
- Serious damage from a natural disaster
Examples of damage include:
- A burst water pipe
- A gas leak
- An appliance or fixture (such as a tap) that is not working or broken and is causing a substantial waste of water
- A blocked or broken toilet
- A serious roof leak
- A dangerous electrical fault
- Serious damage by flood, storm, or fire
Basically – when you are renting a property and you have a blocked drain, blocked stormwater drain, blocked toilet or another plumbing emergency the repair will fall into the ‘urgent’ or emergency repair category.
So you must notify the landlord (or real estate agency) as soon as possible – preferably in writing.
If the landlord/agent cannot be contacted or is unwilling to do the urgent repairs, a tenant can arrange to have them done themselves and usually the landlord will need to reimburse them for the repair within 14 days, provided that:
- The problem was not their fault
- They made a ‘reasonable’ attempt to contact the landlord/agent
- The landlord/agent had a ‘reasonable’ chance to do the repairs
- The repairs were carried out by a repair person named in your tenancy agreement (if possible) or by a licensed or qualified tradesperson.
Here’s where it gets tricky…
IF the landlord or real estate agent can prove the blocked drain or urgent repair was the tenant’s fault, they may not be liable to reimburse that cost.
For example: If a blocked toilet was caused by continuous flushing of tampons, wet wipes or a foreign object being lodged in the toilet the landlord could argue that the tenant is responsible for the repair. So it’s a tenant’s responsibility to ensure the correct items are being flushed and finding their way down the drain.
It is commonplace for landlords to incur the cost of repairing a blocked drain, however, it is possible for a landlord to argue the tenant has misused the premises and the blocked drain is a result of that misuse and therefore the tenant is liable to pay for the damages incurred and the fee to repair the blocked drain.
Note: Please refer to the tenancy agreements and government departments if you’re in a different state as these rules may change state to state.
Most Blocked Drains Are Avoidable!
Most blocked drains are avoidable! To avoid any extra costs or liability it pays to understand what can and cannot go down your drains.
With common sense and a list of materials and objects which should never find their way down any drain, you’ll be doing your best to avoid a blocked drain and a potential costly call out to your local blocked drain specialist.
Learn more TIPS TO AVOIDING A BLOCKED DRAIN
If you’re looking to Unclog A Blocked Drain Yourself With A Plunger, click here.
Bottom line: whether you’re renting a property or you’re a landlord of a property, it’s important to understand what does and does not make its way down the drains, and how to prevent blocked drains. A blocked drain can become a serious plumbing issue very quickly and most blocked drains will need an expert plumber to inspect and repair. Call our local team at VIP Drains today for a $0 quote for your blocked drain.