Storm damage and your rights

06 Jun 2024

Every year the Perth winter months bring about a few days of wild winds and heavy rain that can cause significant storm damage to properties, fencing and mature trees - and if last weekend was anything to go by, we may be in for some more!

This can raise important issues for renters and buyers in the middle of a contract process when damage occurs.

Understanding Your Rights and Responsibilities

Rental Homes

For tenants and landlords, it's crucial to know that if a rental property suffers storm damage, the owner must arrange repairs as promptly and reasonably as possible. In more severe cases where the property becomes uninhabitable or ceases to be legally usable as a residence, Section 69 of the Residential Tenancies Act applies. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Rent Abatement and Lease Termination: If the property is uninhabitable, rent will be abated. The owner or tenant may give notice to terminate the lease agreement. The owner must provide at least seven days' notice, while the tenant must give at least two days' notice.

Homes Under Contract

For properties under contract for sale, storm damage invokes Clause 8 of the Joint Form of General Conditions regarding 'Risk.' Here’s a brief overview:

  • Damage Notification: If the property sustains significant damage, the listing agent will typically contact the seller to assess the situation. If the residence becomes substantially uninhabitable or any other building or improvement is made unusable, the seller must immediately notify the buyer under Clause 8.3.
  • Legal Guidance: In such cases, the seller should consult a legal practitioner to understand their rights and obligations fully.
  • Minor Damage: For minor damages, sellers should be reminded of the representation under Clause 9.1(e) that states the property must be in the same condition at settlement as it was immediately before the contract date.

Dividing Fences

If a dividing fence is damaged or blown down during the contract period, the owner, in cooperation with the neighbor, is required to repair or replace it to a satisfactory standard within a reasonable time. This responsibility does not fall on the buyer.

For more detailed information about your rights and responsibilities regarding dividing fences, please contact your local council or visit the Consumer Protection section of the Department of Commerce’s website.

At Peard Real Estate, we're committed to helping you navigate these challenges with ease and confidence. If you have any questions or need further assistance, please don't hesitate to contact us.

If you are one of our tenants experiencing storm damanage, please refer to your PM Emergency contact detail - these are issues prior to storms so keep a look out.  

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