Gutters – do I have to clean them?

The Standard Residential Tenancy Terms (SRTT) apply to all tenants in the ACT and set out your responsibility to look after the property. Clause 63 states that you should take reasonable care of the property, keep it reasonably clean with regards to the condition of the property at the time you started to live there, and the normal everyday use of the property.

Also, clauses 54 and 55 of the SRTT state that the landlord has an obligation to provide the property in a reasonable state at the start of your tenancy, as well as maintain the property while you live there.

The question of whether or not you must clean the gutters does not have a clear cut answer and will depend on each individual situation. However cleaning the gutters may fall outside your responsibility as a tenant for a number of reasons:

  • The landlord is responsible for all maintenance of the structure of the property, i.e. parts of the actual building, which includes guttering. Therefore there is a good argument that if the gutters require attention the landlord should arrange for this work to be done.
  • If you live in a double story house, or where your personal characteristics such as age or injury prevent you from being able to undertake such work.
  • If you need a ladder to get up onto the roof to clean the gutters, you risk your personal safety.  If you fell or damaged the roof in some way, it is unlikely that the landlord’s insurance will cover you.
  • It may come under the exception for fair wear and tear.  This is because “tear” is defined as reasonable deterioration of a part of a property which occurs due to natural forces such as weather. If leaves fall into your gutters due to a large storm, then this could possibly be covered by fair wear and tear, and not your responsibility.

If you believe that one of the above exceptions applies to you then you can write to your landlord or real estate agent and explain why you do not think you are responsible for cleaning the gutters. If you are not sure if the above exceptions apply to you, please call the Tenants Advice Service.

If you live in an apartment block with a body corporate, you should report all issues with guttering to your real estate agent or landlord. Clause 58 of the SRTT states that the landlord has an obligation to take all reasonable steps to ensure the body corporate makes repairs on common property as soon as possible.

If the gutters need repairing or other parts of the property have been damaged as a result of poorly maintained or broken guttering – see our “Repairs” factsheet.

IMPORTANT NOTE:

Tenants’ Union ACT publishes this website as a free service to the public.

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