Staying cool in summer

What to do if your air-conditioning breaks down

Summer is here, but even those lucky enough to be enjoying air-conditioned comfort in their homes should be prepared.

If your air-conditioning becomes faulty or ceases to work you don’t necessarily have to sweat and bear it.

Anything provided by the landlord in your home must be maintained and repaired if necessary.

So, repairing and maintaining the air-conditioning in your house is the landlord’s duty, not yours.

There are two possible exceptions:

  • 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
  • The air-conditioner was damaged due to your lack of care, and the landlord has given you a notice to fix the damage.

If the exceptions do not apply but you have notified the landlord or agent about the fault, then how long must you wait for the repair?

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).

If you have received the CAV inspectors report and the landlord still hasn’t adequately completed the repairs, you can apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for a hearing within 60 days of receiving the report. VCAT can make an order requiring the landlord to repair the air conditioner.

But summer might be over by then.

What are the options if you think your air-conditioning requires an urgent repair? 

Repairs are divided into urgent and non-urgent but fixing an air-conditioner is not specifically listed as an urgent repair under the Residential Tenancies Act (1997).

However, if you can show there is a safety issue – for example the lack of air-conditioning is a danger to the health of children, or elderly or frail tenants – then VCAT may decide the repairs are urgent.

If your situation isn’t considered urgent, should you just go ahead and get it fixed yourself?

This isn’t a good idea. You shouldn’t deal with repairing your air-conditioner unless your landlord has given you written consent and agreed to pay all costs.

For more detailed information for private and public housing tenants, including how to apply for urgent repairs see Air conditioner repairs -Tenants Victoria.  

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