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Under the Residential Tenancies Act 2010, DCJ is responsible for maintaining your home and will undertake repairs arising through fair wear and tear.

Tenant responsibility for damage

Under the Residential Tenancy Agreement which you have signed, you agree to take good care of your home and report any damage to DCJ as soon as possible. You will be held responsible for any property damage caused by you, your household members or which a guest or a pet has caused. When such damage occurs, DCJ can require that you pay for the cost of repairs.

There are occasions where you are not liable for repair costs. DCJ will not hold you liable for damage caused by the perpetrator of a domestic and family violence offence, when the damage is caused by criminals (e.g. burglars or vandals) or in the normal course of fair wear and tear.

People who cause damage to their DCJ property may also need to pay a rental bond. The bond will apply to damage valued at $500 or more, that is discovered and charged at a single point in time.

For more information about bonds,  see the DCJ Housing Rental Bonds Factsheet.

Types of damage you can be charged for

DCJ is likely to ask you to pay for repair costs to cover damage such as:

  • broken windows
  • punctured internal cupboard doors and walls
  • carpet burns
  • broken clotheslines and hoists
  • broken locks
  • damaged internal or external doors, fly screens and security doors
  • damaged toilets and basins
  • blocked sewers due to sanitary pads, nappies, toys or other items flushed down the toilet
  • fire damage caused by deliberately, or carelessly lit fires or neglect by the tenant or household member

DCJ will also ask you to pay for the cost of replacing lost keys or removing furniture and rubbish or vehicles abandoned at the end of your tenancy.

How does DCJ decide who to charge for damage?

When deciding who is responsible for damage and repair costs, DCJ takes into account the type of damage and the information you give us about who was responsible when reporting the damage.

We will also consider individual circumstances, such as:

  • the condition of the property at the beginning of your tenancy as listed in the Property Condition Report
  • whether repairs are needed due to fair wear and tear
  • ill health, external factors (e.g. criminal activity, break and enter, vandalism) or if you experienced domestic and family violence and were not the perpetrator.

DCJ will ask you to provide evidence of circumstances of ill health and where damage to your property has been caused by external factors or the perpetrator of a domestic and family violence offence.

What happens if DCJ asks me to pay for repairs?

If we hold you responsible for tenant repair costs, we will write a Tenant Damage Charges Notification letter to you explaining the repairs to be carried out and the amount you will be charged. The most that can be charged is the actual cost of the repairs. DCJ will also consider the age of the item damaged and whether its value has gone down over time (depreciation) before working out the final cost.

In the letter, we will ask you to accept the tenant repair costs by signing and returning the Confirmation of Tenant Damage Charges form to your local DCJ office. You should return the signed form back to us within 10 days (plus 4 days postage time).

What if I disagree about my responsibility or the repair costs?

If you believe that you were not responsible for the damage or disagree with the repair costs, you must advise DCJ in writing when you receive your Tenant Damage Charges Notification Letter, stating the reasons why you disagree with the repair costs, and attaching any evidence to support these reasons. The Confirmation of Tenant Damage Charges form is to be returned to your local office within 10 days (plus 4 days postage time).

If DCJ does not receive your returned Confirmation of Tenant Damage Charges form within 10 days (plus 4 days postage time), we will assume you are not disputing responsibility for the damage and/or the cost of the repairs.

We then review our earlier decision. If the review finds you are responsible and confirms the amount of the tenant repair costs, we will write to you and apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal or local court to recover the repair costs.

You will have an opportunity to tell the Tribunal or local court why you disagree about your responsibility and/or the tenant repair costs. The Tribunal or local court will decide if you have to pay and if so how much.

Where can I get more advice?

You can contact NSW Fair Trading for independent information and advice on tenant repair costs.

NSW Fair Trading
13 32 20

You can also contact your local Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service with questions.

Aboriginal tenants can find further information on their rights through the NSW Aboriginal Tenants Advice Service.

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Last updated: 16 Aug 2023