Emergency repairs

Rental law changes introducing minimum housing standards came into effect for new tenancies (including renewed tenancy agreements) from 1 September 2023, and will come into effect for all remaining tenancies on 1 September 2024.

Once minimum housing standards come into effect for the rental property, repairs that are required to make the rental property comply with minimum housing standards are classified as emergency repairs. 

The Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 (the Act) states that there are two types of repairs – emergency and routine repairs. Emergency repairs are defined in the Act. Any repairs that are not listed as emergency repairs in the Act are routine repairs.

Emergency repairs are:  

  • a burst water service or a serious water service leak
  • a blocked or broken toilet
  • a serious roof leak
  • a gas leak
  • a dangerous electrical fault
  • flooding or serious flood damage
  • serious storm, fire or impact damage
  • a failure or breakdown of the gas, electricity or water supply
  • a failure or breakdown of an essential service or appliance on the premises for hot water, cooking or heating
  • a fault or damage that makes the premises unsafe or insecure (this includes smoke alarms)
  • a fault or damage likely to injure a person, damage property or unduly inconvenience a tenant
  • a serious fault in a staircase, lift or other common area of the premises that unduly inconveniences a tenant in gaining access to, or using, the premises
  • minimum housing standards – only effective once minimum housing standards apply to the property. Minimum housing standards came into effect for new tenancies (including renewed tenancy agreements) from 1 September 2023 and commence for all remaining tenancies on 1 September 2024.
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Emergency repairs do not apply to rooming accommodation. All repairs to rooming accommodation are defined as routine repairs.

Emergency repair process

The property manager/owner is required to provide details of a contact for emergency repairs in the tenancy agreement. The tenancy agreement must also state if the nominated repairer or the property manager/owner should be the first point of contact for emergency repairs.

If an emergency repair is required, the tenant should make every effort to contact the emergency contact listed on the tenancy agreement as soon as they become aware of the issue.

When the emergency repair contact is not available

If the tenant is unable to contact the emergency repair contact within a reasonable timeframe, either they or the property manager can arrange repairs up to a maximum value of four weeks’ rent.

Where possible, the repairs should be made by the nominated repairer listed on the tenancy agreement. If the nominated repairer cannot be contacted within a reasonable time, or is not available to make the repairs, the tenant or property manager can arrange for another suitably qualified tradesperson to make the repairs.

Reimbursement for repairs

If the property manager pays for the emergency repairs, they may make deductions up to the cost of four weeks’ rent. They may make these deductions from the paid rent, before transferring the remainder to the property owner’s account.

If the tenant pays for repairs, they must request reimbursement from the property manager/owner in writing. The tenant needs to provide all receipts to the property owner/manager and give them a minimum of seven days to reimburse the money.

The tenant can make an urgent application to Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) for a decision if the property manager/owner does not reimburse them for repairs, once the deadline has passed (this must be a minimum of seven days). The tenant does not need to go through RTA dispute resolution for an urgent application and can apply directly to QCAT.

The property manager/owner can also apply to QCAT if they disagree with the request for reimbursement.

Repair orders

A repair order is an order made by the QCAT addressing repairs that are needed to the rental property or its inclusions. It ensures that property managers/owners take action to address repairs to a rental property and its inclusions in a timely manner.

The tenant may make an urgent application to QCAT for a repair order for an emergency repair if either of the following applies:

  • the tenant has not been able to notify the nominated repairer or the property manager/owner and is not able to organise for a suitably qualified person to carry out emergency repairs
  • the emergency repair was not made within a reasonable time after the tenant notified the nominated repairer or the property manager/owner.

Learn how to apply for a repair order in the repair orders factsheet.