Last updated: March 2021
The information set out on this page is intended as an introduction only and should not be relied on in place of legal advice.
To make contact with a legal centre specific to your location
I am a tenant and my house or unit has been damaged or destroyed in a disaster and is no longer OK to live in. What are my options?
If you are the tenant (you are renting) and the house is unfit to live in or has been destroyed totally – or to such an extent that it is unsafe (for example there is a structural defect, or there is a risk of injury) – you do not have to keep living there.
You will need to end the lease Forms and fact sheets for private rental tenancies.
There are two ways to do this. You can:
- get agreement from your landlord or agent that your house is 'unfit for habitation'. It is best to get this agreement in writing.
- give your landlord an immediate notice of intention to vacate, move out and return the keys.
For more information contact
I am a landlord and my house or unit has been damaged or destroyed in a disaster and is no longer safe to live in. What are my options?
If you are a landlord (you own the property) and it is unfit to live in or has been damaged to such an extent that it is unsafe, you can end the lease by giving the tenant an official Notice to Vacate to Tenant/s of Rented Premises. Forms and fact sheets for private rental tenancies.
You can give the tenant an immediate termination date – that is, the same date that you issue the Notice to Vacate. Alternatively, you may want to try to work out an agreement with the tenant.
You do not have to help the tenant find another place to live in but your help might be appreciated.
You are also allowed to inspect an unfit property, but you must let the tenant (if they still live there) know in advance that you are doing this.
Can I get my bond back if the house is unfit to live in?
If you are renting, you should be able to get your bond back (minus any rent that is still owed) if your house or unit can no longer be lived in and your lease has been terminated.
Landlords can only get bond money back at the end of a lease if rent is owed or if repairs or cleaning were needed because of the tenant. This does not apply to bushfire or disaster damage.
For more information, see the Residential Tenancies website
I am behind on my rent – will this affect my bond?
The landlord may make a claim against the bond if at the end of the tenancy you are behind in your rent.
My goods were damaged. Does my landlord have to compensate me?
Your landlord may be liable to compensate you if the damage was caused by a failure to maintain the premises properly and in good repair. Your landlord does not have to compensate you if the damage was for reasons beyond their control. You should seek urgent legal advice on this point. The landlord’s insurance will not cover a tenant’s goods. Tenants should insure their own property.
My house or unit has been damaged but it is still okay for me to live in. What can I do?
If you are renting, you need to contact your landlord or agent immediately. You also need to determine whether the repair needed to fix the damage is 'urgent'. Urgent repairs include things such as a gas leak, burst water service, dangerous electrical faults or anything that makes the property unsafe or insecure.
Your landlord should attend to urgent repairs without delay, even if they have not yet got their insurance payout from the insurer.
If the damage is not urgent, you can give a notice to the landlord for the repairs to be carried out within 14 days.
Can the rent be put up?
There are laws that landlords have to follow about increasing rent. Rent can only be increased once every six months during a month-to-month lease and rent cannot go up during a fixed-term lease unless this is in the written lease agreement.