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Tenant Repair Charge Policy

Download Evolve Housing 'Tenant Repair Charge Policy' (PDF)

Contents

1. Purpose
2. Scope
3. Definitions
4. Policy statement
4.1 Fair wear and tear definition
4.2 Responsibilities
4.3 Types of damage where a tenant may be responsible
4.4 Type of tenant requested repairs that may be tenant charge
4.5 Tenant damage due to negligence
4.6 Tenant repair charges where asbestos is present
4.7 Reviewing decisions
4.8 Payment of tenant related charges
5. Responsibilities
6. Related resources
7. Where to get more information

1. Purpose

This purpose of this policy is to explain what repairs Evolve Housing considers to be tenant responsibility.

2. Scope

This policy applies to all applicants, tenants or ex tenants of Evolve Housing.

3. Definitions

  • Applicant – the person who makes the formal application for housing assistance
  • Tenant – the person who signs the residential tenancy agreement with Evolve Housing
  • Resident – a person who lives in the property on a permanent basis
  • Spouse – a husband or wife considered in relation to their partner
  • Household members – all people living in the home regardless of age or relationship

4. Policy statement

The policy relates to damage to the premises, other than fair wear-and-tear, for which the tenant is responsible and the cost of repairing that damage, as well as tenant requests for repairs to be undertaken at their property that is not the responsibility of Evolve Housing under the Residential Tenancies Act 2010. These costs are known as a Tenant Charge.

Tenants can expect Evolve Housing to provide them with a property that is in good condition and to maintain that condition throughout the life of their tenancy.  Tenants are expected to take good care of their premises and to take responsibility for property damage other than that caused by fair wear and tear.

4.1 Fair wear and tear definition

The term fair wear and tear is not specially defined in the act or in the tenancy agreement,  but is considered to be deterioration or changes that happen during normal use of the premises even though the premises receive reasonable care and maintenance, or changes that happen with ageing. 

Tenant charges and how they are determined are set out in this Policy.  Evolve Housing is able to apply tenancy related charges in accordance with the provisions of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010. Evolve Housing maintains separate accounts for a tenant’s rent, water usage and other tenancy related charges and payments. 

4.2 Responsibilities

What tenants can expect from Evolve Housing:

  • To abide by the terms and conditions of the Residential Tenancy Agreement that relate to the landlord’s responsibilities.
  • To collect and record information about the type and extent of damage to premises and the circumstances under which the damage may have occurred.
  • To provide the tenant with written notice when Evolve Housing considers the tenant is responsible for Tenant Repair Costs.
  • In relation to non-urgent repairs, to provide the tenant with written notice when Evolve Housing claims repayment for Tenant Repair Costs.
  • If the tenant disputes liability, Evolve Housing will review the decision to charge Tenant Repair Costs, Evolve Housing will then either;
  • Before the tenant vacates the premises, Evolve Housing will carry out a final inspection in the tenants’ presence and complete a Property Condition Report.
  • Following the final inspection and return of the keys, Evolve Housing will not charge the tenant for damage that occurs after the tenant has provided vacant possession of the premises.
  • All damages over $500.00 will be submitted to NCAT for adjudication.

What Evolve Housing expects from the tenant:

  • To abide by the terms and conditions of the Residential Tenancy Agreement.
  • To take good care of the premises and keep them reasonably clean,
  • To tell Evolve Housing as soon as possible if the premises has been damaged.
  • To pay for Tenant Repair Costs.
  • To comply with NCAT or local court orders to pay the costs of repairs or cleaning.
  • To report to the NSW Police any damage that is suspected to have resulted from criminal activity, such as a break and enter, vandalism, or domestic violence and provide police event number.
  • When the tenant vacates the premises, to;
    • a) Restore the premises to the condition, as stated in the property condition report, signed at the commencement of the tenancy, allowing for fair wear and tear.
    • b) Return the keys to Evolve Housing on or before the date of vacating.

4.3 Types of damage where a tenant may be responsible

The following types of damage are typical of incidents where the tenant may be responsible:

  • Damage to or removal of smoke detectors.
  • Broken windows.
  • Damaged internal doors, walls and cabinets.
  • Burns or other damage to carpets that cannot be considered fair wear and tear. 
  • Broken and damaged clotheslines and hoists.
  • Broken locks.
  • Damaged doors and security screens.
  • Damage to toilets and basins.
  • Sewer chokes caused by items that should not be flushed down a toilet.
  • Abandoned furniture or vehicles at the end of the tenancy.
  • Cleaning of gutters on single storey dwellings.
  • Any other items not identified as fair wear and tear, refer to the definition found on page 1

4.4 Type of tenant requested repairs that may be tenant charge

  • Replacement cost of lost or damaged keys.
  • Replacement cost of common area swipe cards
  • Service charge to check utilities; for example a request to check the hot water system as electricity bill appears to be excessive and no fault found. The tenant will be informed prior to the inspection that they will be charged for the visit if no fault found.

4.5 Tenant damage due to negligence

Any action or failure to act by the tenant, that results in damage to the property, for example a fire, caused by the tenant, household members or other invited guest actions, or failure to act, the tenant will be responsible for the cost of repairs.  If Evolve Housing is required to lodge an insurance claim to cover the costs of the repair, the tenant will be liable for the excess as per Evolve Housing insurance cover.

4.5.1 Damage that is the tenant’s responsibility includes:

  • Damage that is intentional
  • Failure to take care to prevent damage, such as neglect.
  • Failure to keep the premises in a reasonably clean condition.
  • Failure to restore the premises to their condition as at the start of the tenancy after allowing for fair wear and tear.
  • Intentional damage or neglect that is caused by any member of the household, household pets, or any visitor who enters the premises with the tenant’s permission.

4.5.2 When considering who is responsible for the cost of repairing damage to the property, or a tenant requests repairs Evolve Housing will:

  • Take into account the type of damage/repairs and any information in respect to liability, the tenant gives Evolve Housing at the time of reporting the damage.
  • Inspect the premises, photograph and document the damage/ repairs where appropriate.
  • Discuss and record, any information the tenant or third party may provide as to the possible cause of the damage/repairs.
  • Take into account the condition of the premises at the beginning of the tenancy, as per the Property Condition Report and any evidence of work undertaken on the property at the start or during the tenancy.
  • Take into account any damage due to fair wear and tear refer to the definition found on page 1
  • Take into account any damage/repairs due to an emergency situation where there was cause to believe that the tenant’s health and well-being was at risk.
  • Consider whether ill-health or inability to maintain the premises has contributed to the damage or need for repairs. In these circumstances, the tenant is required to provide documented evidence.
  • Consider whether the damage/repairs are the result of criminal activity such as; break and enter vandalism or domestic violence. Evolve Housing is committed to reducing the effects of domestic violence and encourages people subjected to domestic violence to speak with a Housing Manager or domestic violence support workers.  

In circumstances of criminal activity the tenant is required to provide evidence that they have reported the matter to the NSW Police, for example a Police statement or Event number.

4.5.3 If Evolve Housing considers the tenant is responsible for a non-urgent tenant repair charge

  • Evolve Housing will advise the tenant in writing, listing the nature of the repairs, their costs and the tenant’s responsibility under the Residential Tenancies Act 2010.
  • The tenant can dispute liability by telling Evolve Housing immediately and providing written reasons including any supporting documentation.

If a tenant disputes the charge, or does not acknowledge responsibility Evolve Housing may take action before NCAT to recover the costs from the tenant.  At NCAT, the tenant will have an opportunity to tell why they dispute liability and NCAT will determine if the tenant is liable and if so how much the tenant will have to pay. 

4.5.4 Repeat or serious incidents of tenant repair costs

Where Evolve Housing has sufficient evidence of repeat or serious incidents of tenant damage, Evolve Housing will immediately take action before NCAT to obtain a Specific Performance Order. In certain circumstances, Evolve Housing may take action to end the tenancy.

4.6 Tenant repair charges where asbestos is present

Asbestos-cement can be a health risk if asbestos fibres become airborne and are inhaled.  This can happen when asbestos-cement building products are broken, sanded, drilled or disturbed in any way that results in airborne asbestos fibres.

Expert advice received from WorkCover NSW and NSW Health states that living in a home built with asbestos-cement is not considered a health risk.

When a tenant damages their property that has material containing asbestos, they could potentially disturb the asbestos.  Where there is evidence that a tenant has damaged their property, Evolve Housing will always pursue Tenant Charges.

NCAT has ruled a tenant is only responsible for the costs involved in replacing the structure that had asbestos in it and not the costs associated with safely removing the asbestos. Evolve Housing will not seek tenant damage charges for the removal and disposal of the asbestos; however the tenant will be responsible for the cost of the repair only.  

4.7 Reviewing decisions

Internal Review

The tenant may request a review of an Evolve Housing decision to charge Tenant Repair Costs on the following grounds;

  • Ill health, domestic violence or the criminal activity of a third party.
  • The property repair charges were not subjected to an NCAT order if the cost is over $500.00.
  • If the tenant disputes liability, the tenant should discuss the matter with their Housing Manager. If agreement cannot be reached, they may apply to Evolve Housing to review the decision. This is referred to as a First Tier Appeal. (See Evolve Housing Appeals Policy). 

External Review

The tenant may dispute the first level appeal outcome and apply to the Housing Appeals Committee (HAC) for a second tier review on the following grounds;

  • The Tenant Repair Charges were not subjected to an NCAT order.
  • The Tenant Repair Charges were not waivered on the grounds of ill health, domestic violence or the criminal activity of a third party.

For more information, please visit the Housing Appeals Committee website on www.hac.nsw.gov.au or telephone 02 9715 7955 or freecall 1800 629 794.

4.8 Payment of tenant related charges

A tenant may make payments for Tenant Repair Charges in the following manner;

  • Centrepay: the MDFP option
  • Payway card: for non rent (water and other charges)
    • How to use your Payway card
      • Post pay – pay at any Australia Post outlet with your Payway card using cash, cheque or EFTPOS.
      • BPAY over the phone with your Payway card
  • Direct Debit - use your Payway card to set up your direct debit online as a one off or reoccurring payment.
  • EFTPOS: pay using your debt or credit card at our Parramatta office or by using our mobile EFTPOS facility by asking your Housing manager.
  • Direct Debit: ask your Housing manager to assist you to set up a direct debt from your bank account.

Important to Note:

Tenant repair charge payments must be received as a separate payment to rent. If a tenant makes a one combined payment that includes a rent and a non rent payment then Evolve Housing will credit the combined payment to the tenants rent account.

Evolve Housing can not move money between accounts without a signed agreement from the tenant.    

This policy is subject to change from time to time at the discretion of Evolve Housing.  Where an individual is observed to not be working within the scope of this policy, the breach will be addressed by a team leader.

5. Responsibilities

It is the responsibility of the:

Chief Executive Officer to ensure this policy and associated procedures are applied and committed to by the Executive Leadership Team.

People & Culture Department to provide Team Leaders with timely policy-related support and guidance.

Leadership Team/Team Leaders to ensure familiarity with this policy and related procedures, to commit to following them accordingly and where relevant, promote the policy to their team.

Employees to ensure they comply with this policy, be responsible for their own behaviour and if required, attend relevant training as provided by the company from time to time.

6. Related resources

7. Where to get more information

Contact Evolve Housing on 1300 692 245 or 02 8862 1500 or info@evolvehousing.com.auFor further information on Appeals see our Appeals Policy and Appeals Factsheet.

Document no:  HS023 |  Approved:  June 2015