Home Info Centre Making sure a rental is fit for tenants
Making sure a rental is fit for tenants

Making sure a rental is fit for tenants

14 Jun 2024 5 mins read

Making sure a rental property is safe for tenants is the responsibility of the landlord (and/or their property manager). Failing to do so can see the landlord in legal hot water – and also impact the insurance cover on the rental property. Want some safety tips at rentals? Keep reading…

Under common law, a landlord has a duty of care to tenants as well as anyone the tenant invites into the property. If the landlord fails to ensure that the property is safe, they may be sued for negligence if an injury or death occurs because of this failure.

In practical terms, a rental must be fit to live in prior to new tenants moving in and be maintained at an acceptable standard during the tenancy. This is not only a legal obligation and a benefit to tenants, but it also impacts the landlord’s insurance. A condition of cover is to ensure that all legal obligations, including those relating to safety and security, are met. It’s also a condition of cover that the property is adequately maintained.

If you are renting out a property, keep note of the below safety measures. They will not only help keep the tenant safe, but they may help you to avoid court or tribunal…

Minimum standards

Several jurisdictions have recently amended the residential tenancy legislation to include minimum standards for rental properties (refer to our guide). Minimum standards are the least permissible condition required to demonstrate a basic level of performance; in the case of rental property, this refers to liveability. It is a level of quality that is thought to be acceptable as a minimum, and below which is unacceptable. Landlords and property managers should review the minimum standards in their state and ensure the property meets these before a tenant moves in.

Urgent repairs

Once a tenant has moved in, landlords (or the property manager) must attend to urgent or emergency repairs within the legislated timeframes. While what constitutes an urgent repair varies by jurisdiction, it’s usually considered to be urgent or an emergency if it involves an essential service, for example a burst water pipe or gas leak. Once a landlord or property manager is made aware of the need for an urgent repair, they must take action to contact a suitable repairer and arrange for them to fix the problem within the legislated timeframe. NOTE: A suitable repairer is suitably qualified, trained or licensed to undertake the necessary work (e.g. licensed electrician or licensed plumber).

Damage and maintenance

While emergency repairs must be completed within legal timeframes, other repairs and maintenance should be prioritised and made in a timely manner. Taking care of damage and general maintenance quickly not only reduces the risk of further damage and deterioration being sustained (and acting to prevent further loss is a condition in insurance cover) but also keeps tenants on-side.


Make sure installations like gas, water and electricity are in good working order and functional. Have any appliances regularly inspected and serviced by qualified and licensed professionals. Heating, plumbing/water and electricity are usually considered essential services and the property will not be classed as habitable if these things aren’t working. In many jurisdictions, if such installations fail, it’s considered an urgent repair.

Health hazards

Landlords should ensure the premises is free of health hazards like rising damp, mould or pests and vermin. Keep an eye out for health hazards during inspections too. If they are found, remedy as soon as possible. If the reason for their presence is due to tenant action or inaction (e.g. a lack of cleanliness has resulted in pests or showering without ventilating the bathroom has caused mould to form), advise them in writing of the need to fix the problem. It should be noted that damp, mould and pest issues are not generally covered by insurance.

Smoke alarms

In all jurisdictions, smoke alarms complying with Australian Standards must be fitted in all rental properties and in accordance with the Building Code of Australia. In some states and territories, the alarm must be hard-wired, while battery-operated smoke detectors may be allowed in other jurisdictions. The requirements regarding the installation and maintenance of the smoke alarms will be outlined in the local tenancy legislation. Details: ACT; NSW; NT; Queensland; SA; Tasmania; Victoria; WA.


There are minimum security standards that must be met in most states and territories. In general, these relate to door locks, window locks and exterior lights. If a landlord fails to meet the minimum security standards and their tenant suffers a loss as a result, the landlord is likely to be held liable for that loss and be required to compensate the tenant. If the landlord has been negligent, this may also impact their insurance cover. Always be sure to get all sets of keys back from tenants. If there are concerns about keys, consider changing the locks or going keyless.

The bottom line

Providing a home for another person comes with responsibilities. Landlords must be aware of their obligations (one of which is to provide a safe environment for renters) and fulfill them. Failing to do so can see the landlord in trouble with the tribunal/courts – and also jeopardise the insurance cover on their rental property.

If you have questions about policyholder obligations, have a chat with a member of our Expert Care team – 1800 661 662. 

*While we have taken care to ensure the information above is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances and legislation after the displayed date may impact the accuracy of this article. If you need us we are there, contact 1800 661 662 if you have any questions. 

You may also like

View all
Five things every landlord needs to know
Insurance insights Five things every landlord needs to know

Here, we listed five important things landlords need to know from an insurance perspective...

09 May 2024 7 mins read
Minimum standards in rental properties
Protection Minimum standards in rental properties

Legislation goes deep into the minimum standards of rental properties and landlords and agents must adhere to them…

09 Apr 2024 15 mins read
Do landlords need cover for tenant-related risks?
Prevention Do landlords need cover for tenant-related risks?

If you are a landlord, the answer is overwhelmingly ‘yes’. But there are exceptions to every rule…

19 Jun 2023 6 mins read
Get a quote Back to the top