Are you a tenant affected by a natural disaster fact sheet

When you rent a place in Tasmania your tenancy agreement is covered by the Residential Tenancy Act 1997.

This fact sheet is for residential tenancies; however, most of this information also applies to rooming accommodation such as boarding houses.

If you want to leave

Where the premises have been destroyed or made completely or partially unfit to live in because of flood, storms or bushfire, you can give a Notice to Terminate.

A tenant may serve a Notice to Terminate on the owner if, for example, the owner has not carried out repairs on the property within 28 days of receiving a Notice to Repair.

The tenant can then leave the premises 14 days after service of the Notice to Terminate.

If the owner wants you to leave

The owner of the premises can serve on you a Notice to Vacate if the tenancy is not for a fixed term and they wish to sell, renovate or use the premises for another purpose.

The Notice to Vacate takes effect 28 days after the owner has served the notice on you. If you are on a fixed term lease then the owner cannot use this reason to get you to leave.

If you want to stay

Where the owner has given you a Notice to Vacate and you want to stay, you can dispute the notice in court.

The owner will lodge the Notice to Vacate in court and a court date will be fixed for hearing the matter. You will be notified of the hearing date in writing. At the hearing you will be given the opportunity to put your case to the magistrate.

If you win, you can stay in the property. If you lose you will be told by the court when you must leave the property.

Rent

If you want to stay and the premises are destroyed or completely or partly unfit to live in because of a natural disaster, you can try to negotiate a reduced rent with the owner or agent. Put any agreement in writing and keep a copy.

If you cannot reach an agreement, you can apply to the Magistrates Court for this issue to be determined by a magistrate.

Repairs

If the premises is damaged you must notify the owner or agent as soon as practicable. The owner then has an obligation to repair the damage as soon as practicable.

If the owner is unable to be contacted or fails to arrange for the carrying out of any repairs and the damage is likely to result in further damage to, or deterioration of, the premises you may authorise a nominated repairer, or if there is not one, a suitable repairer to repair the damage.

A nominated repairer is one that is nominated by the owner to carry out repairs to the premises.

A suitable repairer is a person who is licensed to undertake repairs to residential premises and ordinarily performs those repairs in the course of a business or as an employee of a business.

Any repairs that are carried out in this way are to be carried out only to the extent that is required to prevent further damage or deterioration of the premises. If you use a nominated repairer then the owner must pay for the costs of repairs. If you decide to use a suitable repairer, then you must pay for the repairs but you can get the owner to reimburse you.

Cleaning due to flood or fire damage

When the premises have been made dirty by flood or fire damage, the owner is responsible for cleaning the premises and inclusions. The owner has a responsibility to maintain the premises in a condition, apart from reasonable wear and tear, as nearly as possible that existed on the day on which the residential tenancy agreement was entered into.

You are responsible for cleaning your goods and possessions. If you are moving out, ensure that you clean and remove your possessions. You are not responsible for cleaning flood or fire damage. If there are parts of the property that are not damaged and which you can reasonably access, you should return these to the condition you received them in except for fair wear and tear.

Bond

As of 1 May 2019, all bonds must be managed online through Mybond. If you were a pre existing tenant prior to 1 May 2019, you will already be registered in MyBond. You can login using your email or phone number, or contact the Rental Services team on 1300 654 499 if you need assistance. You will need your Tenant ID or Bond Number prior to calling which  can be obtained from your property Agent or property owner.

You generally can start a claim in MyBond three days after returning the keys or after the owner/agent has a reasonable time to finalise their claim amounts.

If you cannot agree with the owner or agent about the bond, you can dispute this through MyBond. For information on how to do this go to Disputing a bond claim. For more information on claiming a bond go to Claiming a bond.

The Rental Deposit Authority (the RDA) will refund the bond to you if bank account details have been provided in MyBond. If you don't have access to MyBond, you can provide your bank account details directly to the RDA by calling 1300 654 499. When a payment is made, allow 3 - 5 days for bank processing times.

Compensation Generally

Compensation is not available for losses caused solely by flood or storm damage. However, if the owner/agent:

  • was notified of a repair issue prior to an act of nature occurring; and
  • failed to repair within the permitted time stated in the notice (or, if no time is stated in the notice, within a reasonable time) and the failure to repair caused the tenant to make a loss/make further losses;

you may be able to claim compensation against the owner/agent.

For more information contact:


Legal Aid Commission of Tasmania
Free Legal Advice Line: 1300 366 611

Hobart Community Legal Service
Phone: (03) 6223 2500

Launceston Community Legal Centre
Freecall: 1800 066 019

North West Community Legal Service
Phone: (03) 6424 8720

Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading
Phone: 1300 654 499

Tenants Union of Tasmania
Toll Free: 1300 652 641


This factsheet has been adapted from the Queensland Government publication 'Are you a tenant affected by the floods?'

Last updated: 4-July-2019