If you are one of the millions of renters in Australia, you have the right to a safe, secure and maintained rental property to call home for the duration of your rental agreement.
Who is responsible when a tenant is injured in a rental property, due to non-repair or major building faults? What rights and responsibilities do tenants and landlords have?
Who is responsible for the tenant’s safety?
By law, landlords must take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of a property and its tenants. Before you can make a compensation claim, you must prove:
- The property is in some way defective, according to the requirements of the Building Code of Australia; and
- The landlord (or their representative) knew or should have known about the defect or refused to repair defects repeatedly; and
- No timely or reasonable action was taken by the landlord or their representative to prevent the risk of injury.
What to do if you’re injured
If you’re a tenant or visitor to a rental property, you may be able to make a public liability claim if you incur injuries in or around the property. For a successful claim, you must be able to demonstrate you sustained a physical or psychological injury due to someone else’s negligence. Following an accident, you should seek medical treatment for your injuries, and notify your landlord as soon as possible of the incident.
Tips for tenants to avoid injury in rental properties
- Avoid creating hazards by your own actions.
- Always let your rental agency or landlord know of safety issues in and around the property as soon as possible and always in writing.
- Ensure there is adequate, working lighting around the property at all times and report any outages.
- For those tenants that work from home regularly or run a business from their rental property, written permission should be obtained from your landlord. There may be extra insurances you need to take out to protect yourself and your business.
Landlords have a duty of care to ensure the safety of all tenants and any visitors are safe from harm due to poor building maintenance or major defects. Landlords must ensure the property is safe by different means. These include ensuring that installations like gas and electricity are working, and maintaining the safety of appliances. Landlords must ensure smoke detectors/alarms are installed and have them safety checked regularly. Landlords should always act on requests for urgent repairs that need to occur to ensure that tenants are not exposed to unnecessary danger or risk of injury.
What compensation can I claim for an injury in a rental property?
The compensation claimed will depend on the injury suffered, as well as how the injury affects the claimant. Briefly, a tenant or visitor to a rental property could claim:
- Medical costs for treatment and recovery
- Lost income, if the injury prevents the claimant from working
- Pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life
Rental injury claim examples
We represent tenants or visitors to rental properties who’ve been injured due to their landlord’s negligence.
Here are some examples where this type of claim arises.
Landlords not adhering to tenant requests for repairs
Our client Dylan*, was a painter and decorator by trade and rented a property in Far North Queensland. The front of the house was paved but the pavers were uneven and wobbled. On numerous occasions Dylan reported the issue of the pavers to his property manager, it was mentioned in inspection documents months before the incident occurred but no action to fix them were taken.
One evening Dylan was walking out of the house carrying his son, he stepped on a paver that sunk down and caught his foot on the edge of the adjoining paver as he tried to walk forward. He fell, injuring his lower back.
Due to Dylan’s profession, an injury to his back was detrimental to his ability to be able to continue as a painter and decorator. He still had another potential 10 years of working life left in him; he attempted to return to work as a painter and decorator for a few months but was unable to continue due to his injuries.
In circumstances like Dylan’s, a claim would be for medical costs relating to his injury and any income he lost due to his inability to work as a painter.
*Name has been changed to protect our client's privacy.
Compensation for falling down stairs
Mary* was visiting her friend at their rental property when she fell down external wooden stairs, injuring her wrist and shoulder. She was unable to work in her role as a Residential Care Worker while she recovered.
If you’ve fallen down stairs in a rental, this doesn’t necessarily mean you have a claim. As with general rental injury claims, the stairs need to have a fault of some kind, which has been raised with the property owner, who has not acted to repair the fault.
In Mary’s case, we were able to ascertain that poor lighting in the stairwell area contributed to Mary’s fall and subsequent injuries. We also learnt the property’s tenant had also fallen down the stairs before Mary and she had reported the broken lighting to her rental agency at that time.
Mary’s compensation claim was for the medical costs from her injuries, along with the income she lost while recovering.
*Name has been changed to protect our client's privacy.
Injured in a rental? Shine Lawyers can help
If you have been injured in a rental property due to the landlord’s or property manager’s negligence, our public liability experts can provide an obligation-free assessment of your situation and advise you of all your legal options.
Public liability claims are run with a No Win No Fee guarantee**, so you won’t pay legal fees if your claim isn’t successful. If you have any questions, or would like to make an enquiry, get in touch.
Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: January 26, 2021.