Imagine you are at home, and as you turn the light switch on, BAM, you are zapped. Although most minor shocks from light switches are harmless static shocks, you may experience a sizeable painful jolt. If this has happened, you may have a defective light switch. It’s important to avoid contact with the switch until it has been inspected and repaired by a professional. Do not let anyone else in the household touch or tamper with the switch. If you’ve been shocked, immediately let go of the electric source and switch off or disconnect the power supply or main switchboard. If the shock is severe and you require immediate medical assistance, call 000.
What if it’s a faulty power point that tripped it? What are you supposed to do as a renter if this happens in your home? You need to know your rights and responsibilities in this kind of situation. It is the owner’s responsibility to ensure the power points are in good working order before any tenants move in. However, if you do find yourself in the dark (literally!) due to a power outage, it is best to inform your property manager or landlord straight away.
According to the Residential Tenancies Regulations 1989, dangerous electrical faults are considered an essential service. Other essential services include a burst in water pipes, gas leaks, a broken hot water system and sewerage leaks.
Keeping this in mind, once you have notified the landlord or property manager, they must do the following:
What if the faulty power point was caused by one of my appliances?
Faulty appliances can often be the cause of a sudden power trip. Other ways for a power point to fail are overloading the outlet with too many appliances or accidentally spilling water on the fixture. If one of your appliances is to blame, you may be liable for the repair and replacement.
If this happens, you must notify your landlord or property manager, so the report is on record. If unsure about what caused it, make a note to the property manager that the fault is a safety hazard. It is best, to be honest, and say if the electrician or suitable repairer finds misuse as the cause, then you will pay for the repair. This way, your landlord knows you are a trustworthy tenant and has reason to believe you if other issues arise during your tenancy.
What happens if my landlord does not respond to the claim?
You can escalate the matter if your landlord does not arrange for the faulty power outlet to be repaired. Make sure you have a record of your communication (always in writing) for further proof that you have done everything required as a tenant to get the issue fixed as soon as possible. This means saving all those texts, emails and phone records.
The next step is to contact the state’s consumer affairs body – the Department of Commerce for WA renters. The landlord will be served a breach notice, and if they continue to ignore the issue, the tenant may apply to the Magistrates Court for an order to complete the necessary works. If the delay in repairs and maintenance causes part of the property to be unusable, the tenant can ask the court for a rent reduction until the works are completed.
You can learn more about your rights as a Western Australian tenant by visiting the Department of Commerce WA website for an in-depth explanation. If a property manager manages the property, as part of their job they are well aware of Australian consumer law and if you feel that your property isn’t being managed property it’s important that the landlord is aware of any of your concerns. Here at Ray White Urban Springs our property management team is ultimately responsible for keeping our tenants and landlords happy so neither side has to stress!