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

Air conditioner repairs

Summer is here. Check if your air-conditioner is working now.

Why now?

If your air-conditioner need repairs, request them now. Otherwise you could suffer in the heat for weeks before it is fixed.

Is fixing the air-conditioner an urgent repair?

Maybe. Repairs are divided into urgent and non-urgent. But fixing an air-conditioner is not specifically listed as an urgent repair. [Section 3 Residential Tenancies Act (1997)]

But if you can show there is a safety issue – for example danger to the health of children, elderly or frail tenants – VCAT may decide the repairs are urgent. You should provide medical evidence to support the safety issues caused by the fault.

If the heating and cooling is in the same unit or a split system, VCAT may decide it is an urgent repair because repairs to heating is an urgent repair.

It is important for you to know that if you pay for air-conditioner repairs and VCAT decides the repairs were not urgent, the landlord may not have to pay you back. So it is better if you go to VCAT first.

See more on urgent repairs and non-urgent repairs.

Does the landlord have to get the air-conditioner fixed?

Yes. Anything provided by the landlord must be maintained and repaired if necessary. This is the landlord’s duty and repairing and maintaining air-conditioning falls under this duty.
There are a couple of exceptions: 1) if you and your landlord agreed in your lease that the air-conditioner was not working and does not form part of the rented premises; or 2) if the air-conditioner was damaged due to your lack of care, and the landlord has given you a notice to fix the damage. [Section 68 Residential Tenancies Act (1997)].

Can I fix it myself or get someone else to do it?

No. You shouldn’t deal with repairing your air-conditioner yourself unless your landlord has given you written consent and agreed to pay all costs.

How do I get the air-conditioner fixed?

Read Is fixing the air-conditioner an urgent repair? and then follow the steps for urgent repairs or non-urgent repairs.

To request non-urgent repairs, you should complete a Notice to Landlord form (CAV website).

  • Make sure you include the landlord’s name on the form and list all the repairs needed.
  • When you have filled in the form keep two copies for yourself.
  • Deliver the notice to the landlord or real estate agent personally or by registered post.
  • When they receive the Notice to Landlord, the landlord has 14 days to carry out the repairs.

[Section 74 Residential Tenancies Act (1997)]

What if I’m a public housing tenant?

If you are a public housing tenant, your landlord is the Director of Housing. To request repairs, you can either: follow the steps above and deliver your Notice to Landlord to your nearest Housing Office, or you can complete the online form for non-urgent repairs. For Housing Office locations or the online form see the Department of Human Services website.

What can I do if they don’t fix it, or don’t fix it properly?

If the repairs are not completed within 14 days or if you think the repairs aren’t satisfactory, you can request an inspection of the repairs by Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV).

To request an inspection:

  • complete the Request for Repairs Inspection form (available from the Consumer Affairs Victoria website)
  • include a copy of your Notice to Landlord with your form
  • also include any other documents between you and your landlord related to these repairs
  • send the form and documents to Consumer Affairs Victoria (address details are on the form)

After they have received your form, an inspector will contact you about the inspection. After an inspection, if they find that the landlord has not completed adequate repairs, they may negotiate with the landlord to complete the repairs. They will also provide you with a written report of the inspection. [Section 74 Residential Tenancies Act (1997)]

What if the landlord still doesn’t do the repairs after the report?

If you have received the inspectors report from Consumer Affairs Victoria but the landlord still hasn’t adequately completed the repairs, you can apply to Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for a hearing within 60 days of receiving the report.

If you don’t receive the inspection report within 90 days of making your application to CAV you can apply to VCAT without the inspector’s report.  

To apply for a hearing:

  • complete the General application form – Residential Tenancies List (VCAT website)
  • attach a copy of your Notice to Landlord
  • attach a copy of the Consumer Affairs Victoria inspectors report
  • make sure you keep a copy of the application and supporting documents for yourself before you send them
  • send the application form and documents to VCAT (address details are on the form)
  • give a copy of your application and documents to the landlord or real estate agent in-person or by registered post.

[Section 75 Residential Tenancies Act (1997)]

Orders by the tribunal

If the tribunal is satisfied that the landlord is in breach of their duty to maintain the premise in good repair it can order the landlord to carry out specific repairs within an allocated timeframe. [Section 76 Residential Tenancies Act (1997)]

If the landlord fails to comply with the original order

You can renew your application by writing to VCAT, providing your application reference number and explaining that you would like a further hearing as the repairs have not been completed. You may request that your rent is paid to a rent special account until the repairs have been carried out. [Section 77 Residential Tenancies Act (1997)]

The tribunal may also order compensation assessed at a daily rate for as long as the landlord continues to breach their repair duty. [Section 209 Residential Tenancies Act (1997)]

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