Keep your cool with airconditioning and pools

14 Oct 2021

Queensland is known for its scorching summers and so keeping cool is important when the heat is on. In the latest episode of the Talking Tenancies podcast we discuss maintaining and repairing air conditioners and pools to ensure a comfortable summer for both tenants and managing parties. Our RTA expert for this episode is Stephen Watson from RTA's Customer Experience team.


Host: Belinda Heit – Communication and Education – RTA

Guest: Stephen Watson – Customer Experience – RTA

Host: Welcome to the Talking Tenancies Podcast, brought to you by the Residential Tenancies Authority. I'm your host, Belinda Heit. Join me as we explore everything you need to know about renting in Queensland with experts from the RTA and industry. We're here to help make renting work for everyone.

Queensland is known for its scorching summers and so keeping cool is important when the heat is on. Maintaining and repairing air conditioners and pools helps us to ensure a comfortable summer for both tenants and managing parties. Today's expert from the RTA is Stephen Watson, welcome Stephen.

Guest: Thanks, Belinda, thanks for having me today.

Host: You're welcome. Now can you tell us about your role here at the RTA and what you're responsible for?

Guest: Yeah, so I've worked with the RTA for about 10 years now. Most of that time across all of the customer focusing areas. Currently I’m a senior in our dispute resolution team.

Host: Awesome and I know you're super bus, so happy to have you with us today. Now, first of all, talking about air conditioners and pools, when we look at general maintenance for air conditioning and pools, who's responsible for what and how do you find out what's expected?

Guest: Yeah, yeah really, really good questions. There's actually no specific rules in Queensland's rental laws about the maintenance of individual items such as air conditioning units, pools, lawns, gardens, gutters and light bulbs.

However, tenants do have a responsibility to keep the premises clean and in good condition, so regular household jobs like cleaning the air conditioning, filters or vents, pool cleaning filter and clearing of any leaves or debris from the pool, would generally be considered the tenants responsibility as it concerns general maintenance, the standard, and condition of the premises.

So, if you rent into a property with air conditioning or a pool associated with it, you should discuss the maintenance arrangements and expectations with the property manager or the owner. The agreed arrangements should then be documented in the special terms for the tenancy agreement before it's signed.

For air conditioners, tenants and property managers or owners should check the operational instructions as to what is required and agree on their actions. So this may be may include the tenant cleaning the air filters and vents regularly to make sure the unit functions well all year round, and the property manager arranging an annual service with a professional to check things like thermostat settings and for any leaks. If the air conditioning units require repairing or their parts replaced, this is generally is considered to be the property manager's responsibility to organise.

Likewise with pools, the tenant could be responsible for everyday maintenance such as cleaning leaves or debris from the pool and balancing and water chemistry. Again, any arrangements should be discussed and documented in the tenancy agreement before it’s signed. Ideally the property manager or the owner should provide instructions for any maintenance the tenant must carry out. If the property manager or the owner enters into a contract with an external company for pool maintenance, this should be stated in the tenancy agreement. Be aware that the property manager or the owner cannot require the tenant to enter into a maintenance contract or require the tenant to use a particular company to provide the maintenance services, this would be considered a breach of our legislation.

Host: Yeah exactly, and you know when we look at pools and air conditioners, they're one of those things that when they break, they're usually pretty expensive, right?

Guest: Yeah, true.

Host: Yeah, so making sure that that's in the special terms on the agreement is really important and making sure that you can commit to those as well.

Guest: Yeah, absolutely. I mean if you know, if things do blow up and there's not a signed agreement, then you might end in our dispute resolution process.

Host: Exactly, on the subject of pools, safety really should be top of mind. Now as I understand it, there are legislative requirements around fencing and certification for pools in Queensland. What are the safety requirements there and do they apply to temporary or above ground pools?

Guest: Yeah, very good questions Belinda and it is a very, very important topic. Under the tenancy laws the property owner has an obligation to ensure that the premises rented are not in breach of any health and safety laws and this would include all pool safety laws in relation to certification and fencing.

Pool safety requirements cover items like fencing, barrier gates, doors and windows, and signage around the pool area. So, if you're renting a property with a pool, the property owners must have a pool safety certificate issued by a licenced pool safety inspector before the property is leased and, as best practice, a copy of this certificate should be included with the tenancy agreement.

If a certificate is not obtained, the tenant may consider it a breach of the property owners' duty to comply with all health and safety laws, so make sure you record the condition of the pool in the entry condition report at the start of the tenancy, so you can return it to the same condition when you leave the property.

It's also important for tenants to avoid propping open gates to allow access to the pool and remember to report any concerns to the property manager or owner. On the other hand, though, if you’re renting a property with a lovely backyard and you want to put in a temporary pool on these hot days, you should obtain permission from the property owner before installing the temporary pool or spa. All temporary pools and spas, if it can be filled up to a level 300 millimetres, must also comply with the pool safety laws and may require fencing requirements.

Remember that pool safety laws apply to both the owner and the tenant, and everyone should work together to play it safe around pools. I cannot stress enough how important pool safety is. Make sure your pool, it's surroundings and barriers, are compliant with the pool safety laws in place. Keep gates closed and climbable objects far away. There is a compliance check with the Queensland Building and Construction Commission website to make sure that your pool, whether it's big, small, permanent or temporary, complies with safety requirements.

Host: Yeah, so it's really important to remember if you do get one of those inflatable pools or spas, they do need the fencing around them. It's not just something you put up and then empty.

Guest: Yes, although its pretty tempting in summer though.

Host: It is. Now, broken or faulty pool pumps can result in pools becoming unusable. Who's responsible for these repairs to ensure further damage isn't done?

Guest: Yeah, well, similar to air conditioning if any repairs or replacements are needed due to broken parts, the tenant should notify the property manager or owner as soon as possible so it can be fixed. If the tenant damaged the pool pump in a way to cause the break or fault, then generally it's considered that the tenant should pay for the repair or the replacement.

However, if the pump broke down due to age or fair wear and tear, then this would be the property owner's responsibility to repair it. The condition of pools and water can sometimes change quite quickly when the pH is out of balance or if something's not functioning properly to keep the water clean. So we encourage property managers and owners and tenants to raise and address issues concerning pools quickly to prevent further damage and curb subsequent maintenance expenses.

Host: So what about maintaining a pool while there are water restrictions, which we're so used to here in Queensland?

Guest: Yeah, particularly, you know, if summer gets really hot. So tenants and property owners and managers must observe any local water restrictions and be reasonable when it comes to maintaining pools and garden. If there are water restrictions in your area, there are ways to help you save water and reduce your water consumption, even with a pool. For example, things like not overfilling the pool, or making sure there's no leaks, using a properly fitted pool cover or topping the pool off with rainwater run-off.

Host: Now, natural disasters, another thing that we're used to here in Queensland. Storms and flooding can cause pools to overflow or take on debris. Who takes care of this and it's impacts?

Guest: Yeah, well fingers crossed we don't get any major events this summer, but if your property has been affected by a natural disaster, you should talk to the property manager or the owner and discuss the state of the property with them and agree on the action that needs to be taken. The actions and persons responsible should be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Depending on the extent of the maintenance required and the damages that were caused, generally speaking, the property manager or the owner is responsible for maintenance and repairs needed to bring the property back to what we call a ‘liveable condition’. The repair should also need to comply with relevant health and safety laws.

The tenant on the other hand, is responsible for removing or cleaning their own possessions. We do encourage property managers and tenants to work together and to consider that each other's circumstances after a natural disaster, so any repairs or maintenance issues can be addressed swiftly. This way, the premises and possessions are looked after and the tenancy can continue.

Host: Yeah, it's one of those things we say in nearly every episode of this podcast is talk to each other. No matter what happens, talk to each other.

Guest: Yes, it would help.

Host: Now air conditioning and electrical faults, another thing that can end up quite expensive. Don't delay on repairs as trade people may be busy. Is that right?

Guest: That's right yeah, a really good point Belinda. It does tend to happen that people forget about these things until summer hits and then people are busy. It's not uncommon to experience an increase in demand for trades people to fix, inspect or service air conditioning units or fans right at the start of summer.

Again, make sure you discuss the maintenance arrangements with the property manager. Have all the arrangements in writing and know what you need to do in that regard. It's good to clean, check and test your air conditioning units and fans before the heat of summer comes around.

So you do things like wipe the dust off the fan, air conditioner filters should be cleaned and should be inspected, units should be tested by following safety and cleaning instructions in the appliance manuals or guidelines. You should also check air conditioning units and fans for any damage such as broken casings or fraught cords.

Avoid using damaged appliances and report any maintenance or repair request to your property owner or manager as soon as possible so that a licenced contractor can be arranged to inspect and fix the appliance. Making sure you get this done before summer comes around will give you a peace of mind and ensure any issues can be addressed before you really need to use the appliances.

Host: Yeah, and that's a really good point that you've raised there, Steve. As you know, at the time of recording, we've just started spring here, which is more like summer, and I had to turn the fans on this week. Didn't clean them, so it's time to do that.

Thank you so much, Steve for helping us to get a greater understanding on what we need to know when it comes to air conditioning and pools in a rental property and ensuring we keep cool this summer.

Guest: Right, well, thank you very much for having me.

Host: Thank you for listening to the Talking Tenancies Podcast. For more information about the Residential Tenancies Authority, visit

Original publication on 14 Oct 2021
Last updated on 14 Oct 2021

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