This information is a guide and should not be used as a substitute for professional legal advice.

Published: April 2022

Repairs for public housing

The law in Victoria requires all rental providers (landlords) – including the Victorian Government – to keep rented homes in good repair.

Laws and procedures

The law is the same for public housing renters and private residential renters, though some things may be treated differently under government public-housing policies and practice notes. For example, the public housing maintenance manuals add extra classifications for repairs.

See the heading ‘Urgent, priority and non-urgent repairs’ on this page for more information on how the government classifies repairs.

For more information about the laws on repairs see our page Repairs and maintenance.

Homes Victoria (also known as the Director of Housing), a division of the Victorian Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH), is the rental provider (landlord) for public housing.

DFFH’s HousingVic website has information for public housing renters on repairs and maintenance, and other information.

DFFH sets out its policies and practices for maintenance of public housing in its Maintenance manual. This outlines the business processes for property maintenance, including repairs. The section of the manual on ‘responsive maintenance’ covers day-to-day maintenance and repairs that have been requested.

Reporting repairs

Contact the government’s Housing Call Centre as soon as possible if your rented home needs repairs. You can contact them by:

If you need an interpreter, tell the Housing Call Centre what language you speak, and they will organise an interpreter for you.

When you call the Housing Call Centre it is important to tell them:

  • Your name and phone number
  • Your address
  • What is not working or needs repairing

Always ask the Housing Call Centre for the job order number or a record of your call. And always confirm in writing what repairs are needed, even if it sounds like the problem will be fixed with just a call. The law requires this, and it will also give you proof of when you reported the problem in case you need to take further action later [section 72AA]. Make sure you keep a copy of any correspondence you have with the Housing Call Centre.

Note that on this page sections in brackets, such as [section 72AA], refer to sections in Victoria’s Residential Tenancies Act 1997. See the Resources section at the bottom of this page for links to the laws.

Urgent, priority and non-urgent repairs

The government classifies repairs in 3 ways: urgent, priority and non-urgent.

Urgent repairs

Urgent repairs need to be done as soon as possible [section 72]. For a full list of what repairs are classified as urgent see our page Repairs and maintenance.

The Department of Families, Fairness and Housing’s Responsive Maintenance policy requires urgent repairs to be fixed within 24 hours. Some urgent repairs, such as large-scale sewerage or drainage works, may not be able to be completed within this time. If such works are required, the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing will assess whether you will require alternative housing while the works are completed.

Priority repairs

The Responsive Maintenance policy considers repairs that are important but not dangerous to be priority repairs. The policy requires priority repairs to be fixed within 7 days so that they do not become urgent repairs.

Examples of priority repairs are:

  • One hotplate on a stovetop not working while others are still working
  • A breakdown of a washing machine or dryer in a communal laundry where one or more other machines can still be used
  • A dripping tap

However, under the law these may all be considered urgent repairs, which you have the right to have fixed as soon as possible.

For a full list of urgent repairs under the law see our page Repairs and maintenance.

Non-urgent repairs

Under both the law and the government’s Responsive Maintenance policy non-urgent repairs are required to be fixed within 14 days [section 74].

Programmed maintenance

The Department of Families, Fairness and Housing audits selected public housing properties every 3 years to determine if programmed maintenance is required.

The department’s Responsive Maintenance policy considers programmed maintenance to be non-urgent work that is exempt from the usual 14-day timeline for other non-urgent repairs.

Examples of programmed maintenance include:

  • Replacing old carpets
  • Repainting the property
  • Kitchen or bathroom upgrades

DFFH’s HousingVic website says you can ask for this type of work to be done, but there are often waiting times. Contact your local housing office for information on waiting times.

If you do not agree the repairs needed should be treated as programmed maintenance and want them fixed sooner, see our page Repairs and maintenance. This page has more information on the steps you can take under the law to get non-urgent repairs done.

Getting repairs done

Once you have contacted the Housing Call Centre, they will assign the repair job to a professional contractor.

The contractor will contact you to arrange a suitable day and time to do the repairs.

The contractor should come within:

  • 24 hours if the repairs are urgent
  • 7 days if the repairs are priority
  • 14 days if the repairs are non-urgent

You should ask the contractor for identification before letting them into your home.

Once the repairs have been done the contractor will ask you to sign a work order to verify that they attended your home and completed the repairs.

Never sign a blank work order!

Your signature does not verify the quality of the work done. If the repairs are not completed properly, or within the required timeframe, contact the Housing Call Centre or your local housing office.

If repairs are not done

You can call the Housing Call Centre and tell them the repairs have not been done.

By law you may also:

  • Ask Consumer Affairs Victoria for a free repair inspection and report, if the repairs needed are non-urgent [section 74]
  • Apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for orders that the repairs be done, for both urgent and non-urgent repairs [sections 73 and 75]

See our page Repairs and maintenance for more information on the steps you can take under the law to get repairs done.

You can also contact us on our Social Housing Tenants number, 1800 068 860.

Another option is to contact your local Tenancy Plus provider. The Tenancy Plus program supports renters in public housing.

Complaints

If the repairs were not done within the specified time frame, were not done properly or you are not happy with the way the contractor behaved you can contact the Housing Call Centre or your local housing office to make a formal complaint.

Victorian Ombudsman

The Victorian Ombudsman can also help resolve complaints about maintenance and repairs in public housing.

Making a complaint to the Ombudsman is free

The Ombudsman can make an independent recommendation to the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing.

Contact the Ombudsman office on 1800 806 314.

Resources

Related pages

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