Cleaning Gutters in a Rental – Tenant’s or Landlord’s Responsibility?

Whether you are a first-time or long-time renter, or a landlord with one or more investment properties, the question of ‘who is responsible for cleaning the gutters of a rental house’ inevitably pops up with many still unsure of the answer despite previously asking their property manager this question. If gutters are not cleaned regularly or properly, there are numerous consequences. For both tenants and landlords. So regardless of who is responsible, regular maintenance is beneficial for all parties involved in a tenancy agreement. That being said, someone still needs to foot the bill for having the gutters properly cleaned and checked. This article should help you work out who is responsible for what and why.

We will cover:

  • The importance of having clean gutters for the tenant, and the landlord
  • What to do to avoid serious problems with your gutters
  • What the rental laws have to say about repairs and maintenance
  • How these laws relate to gutter cleaning responsibilities in rental properties

Why Landlords Should Care About Clean Gutters

If you are a landlord and the gutters on your investment property are not properly cleaned, plant material and other debris collects to the point where gutters and downpipes become clogged. Sometimes weeds can start growing in your spouting if it’s left long enough. This causes water to pool in the gutters and run down the side of your house, as well as flood the ground below. Leading to serious problems for your investment in the short and long term.

Some of the Major Blocked Guttering Problems for Homeowners Include:

  • Rusting and degradation of guttering
  • Internal leaks and damage within the roof cavity
  • Damage to the façade of your property
  • Erosion of landscaping
  • Sinking foundations

If your gutters are blocked or filled to the point where it may become a more serious and costly issue for you, there are a few things that you may notice or hear from your property manager. If you ignore these warning signs, it could spell trouble for you and your investment.

Warning Signs that Could Indicate Issues with Your Investment’s Guttering:

  • The tenant complains of overflowing gutters early in the wet season
  • Drainage on the property is an ongoing concern, even in drier weather
  • Tradespeople are frequenting the property to deal with leaks or electronic issues in the ceiling or walls
  • There are drastic differences seen across inspection photos with things like the roof, cladding, landscaping, and other external strcutures (typically not for the better)

 

Ignoring these warning signs that can be associated with gutters requiring a professional clean, could mean that you might end up dealing with something much more serious and costly.

Why Tenants Should Care About Clean Gutters

If you are a tenant renting a property that has gutters that have not been properly cleaned and maintained, then you may not realise your home has blocked guttering and/or downpipes. At least, until you see sprigs of green foliage popping up at the edges of your roof or eaves or a waterfall crashing onto your garden during a downpour. You may not think that overflowing and unclean gutters are an issue you have to worry about. After all, it’s not your investment property so why should it matter if there is a bit of structural damage. However, there are a number of issues that you could end up dealing with if your gutters aren’t cleaned properly.

Some of the Major Blocked Guttering Issues for Renters Include:

  • Damage to your landscaping and/or outdoor furniture
  • Tripping hazards from flooding
  • Increased mould growth that can impact your health
  • More mosquitos
  • More areas for pests like rats and birds to nest
  • Higher risk of interior flooding that can damage your belongings

If your gutters are blocked or filled to the point where it may become serious risk to you or your family, then you will likely notice a few things. By keeping an eye out for these things and reporting them to your property manager as soon as possible, you will ensure that the problems are more likely to be addressed. It will also help the success of your claim if you need to submit one for damages to your belongings or self.

Warning Signs that Could Indicate Issues with Your Home’s Guttering:

  • There are waterfalls coming from your eaves during light rains
  • Sections of your yard (especially around the base of your house) are continously flooded or soft from moistur
  • You continuously have issues with leaks or electrical problems in your celing or walls
    The structure of your home has seemed to degrade since your first inspection to the most recent one
  • Outdoor structures and furniture have eroded quicker than expected for the time you have lived in your rental home

 

If you ignore these signs or fail to alert your property manager to these issues, then you could face serious legal or financial consequences. Possibly even finding your lease affected. Having your gutters cleaned properly is a simple preventative measure that could save you a world of legal, financial, and personal risk.

Rental Laws for Repairs and Maintenance

To avoid problems and ensure good communication between all parties involved in a rental agreement, it helps to know exactly what the laws say about repairs and maintenance for rental properties. Therefore tenants, landlords and property managers all should get familiar with the rules and requirements for the area they are in. In Victoria, rentals are covered by the housing and accommodation sector of Consumer Affairs. These laws explain who is responsible for different types of repairs and maintenance. As well as outlining what repairs are classified as urgent and non-urgent, and how immediately the repairs are required to be addressed. By knowing the laws surrounding repairs and maintenance, tenants and landlords can work out who is responsible for cleaning the gutters on a rental property. As well as how quickly some gutter-related issues need to be addressed.

Tenants are expected to keep the property they are renting in good condition. For the external features of a rental this includes maintaining the gardens, ensuring the exterior is clean, addressing minor repairs and other similar duties. For any work that requires a licensed or registered tradesperson, the tenant cannot complete this type of work unless they carry it out to the same standard as a tradesperson.

Hint: Jobs like gutter maintenance and roof repair fall within this domain as there is a large safety risk associated with these jobs.

Often, it is best for the tenant to go through their property manager for these types of jobs, to ensure they are not liable for any damages that result. While also ensuring their own safety; as professionals are more qualified and experienced to do the job. These costs are not worn by the tenant unless they have been directly caused by the tenant.

Landlords are expected to organise and pay for all repairs and damages, not caused by the renter. If the renter is at risk due to the repairs required or damages to the property, then it is regarded as urgent and needs to be addressed immediately by the landlord. If the tenant can live on the property safely, then it is regarded as a non-urgent repair that still needs to be addressed but the landlord has two weeks to do so.

There are a number of possible repairs that could result from blocked and unclean gutters. Seeing whether they are classified as urgent or non-urgent will give you an idea of how serious an issue it is to not clean or maintain your gutters properly.

 

Gutter-Related CauseNon-Urgent RepairsUrgent Repairs
Blocked gutters and pipes not moving water away from home and into storm drainsExtra moisture in the ground and slow removal of water from the areaFlooding or serious flood damage
Overflowing or damaged gutters directing water back into roof cavityDripping sounds in walls or ceilings or minor roof leaksSerious roof leak
…gutters directing water back into roof cavity and onto wiringDysfunctional wiring that does not pose any risk/dangerDangerous electrical fault
Leaf litter in gutters can dry out and act as tinder for bushfiresN/ASerious fire damage
Pests nesting in plant debris in gutters and excess moisture around the building’s structureN/APests, Mould, or Damp
Overflowing gutters eroding ground at base of house and around foundationsMinor damage to cosmetic aspects of house or early sight of a possible larger issue long-termUnsafe structural damage
Leaking down façade causing damage to the exterior and letting elements into the homeMinor damage to cosmetic aspects of houseDamage causing health hazards (e.g., exposure to cold)

 

Who is Responsible for Cleaning the Gutters?

The laws around repairs and maintenance are relatively clear about who is expected to organise and foot the bill for trade specialist repairs (as well as non-specialist repairs). Gutter cleaning is regarded as a safety-hazard and can cause a swathe of serious issues that require immediate action, which is why they should be done properly by a trained professional. Therefore, it falls within the jurisdiction of a landlord to organise and pay for.

However, this does not mean a tenant should be complacent when it comes to the gutters on their rental. If you are a renter, vigilance and addressing issues early with your property manager is key to avoiding damages to yourself, your family, and your belongings. Nobody wins by failing to prioritize clean gutters. Even if it is your landlord’s responsibility to ensure the gutters are cleaned regularly (frequency and timing is largely dependent on your area or the type of home), tenants should aim to check for signs that their gutters need cleaning or watch out for evidence of damage and leakages that could be caused by blocked or damaged gutters.

It is important to note that there are some instances where the laws may not apply, such is the case with a body corporate. In these instances, it is usually best to look at the agreement that was signed when the property was first purchased. Regardless of your circumstances, there is no excuse to leave your eaves to the mercy of clogged gutters and pipes.

Your gutters are one of the key features in protecting your home from the elements. They ferry water away from your home to keep it dry, safe, and warm. While increasing the longevity of your home’s structure. If you own an investment property and want to prolong the life of your investment while mitigating the risks associated with poor maintenance practices, you should get a professional gutter clean organised asap.

PorterVac are the specialists in high quality cost-effective gutter cleans using state of the art vacuum technology to thoroughly clean your gutters without the mess. We always conduct a free roof check with every clean to ensure you can keep your investment in excellent condition and avoid spending tens-of thousands on roof repair and further structural damage. Get in touch with us for a free quote for your gutter cleaning needs. You can also request a call back or chat with a team member now by calling 1300 833 399.

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