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Department of Human Services

Maintenance policy

This policy sets out:

  • when and what type of maintenance Housing SA will carry out at public and Aboriginal housing
  • tenant responsibilities when carrying out home improvements, modifications and alterations
  • who’s responsible for paying for costs associated with maintenance.

This policy also applies to housing in Aboriginal Communities managed by Housing SA, except where otherwise specified.

Housing SA may provide maintenance on an occupied property in remote areas of the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands at the owner's request, if both of the below conditions are met:

  • it's within 30 kilometres of an Aboriginal Community
  • there's an issue which poses a risk to an occupant's health or safety.

Housing SA modifies properties to meet the needs of people with disabilities in line with the Housing modifications for people with a disability policy.

Tenants can appeal maintenance decisions and charges in line with the Appeals policy.

Maintenance standards

Work’s carried out in a trades-like manner - eg work’s completed to the same standard as a tradesperson, or a registered or licensed person - eg electrician, where required by law.

All maintenance work complies with:

  • relevant legislation and regulations
  • all work, health and safety requirements
  • all relevant South Australian Housing Trust (SAHT) policies and procedures.

Responsive maintenance is unplanned, reactive work - eg dripping taps, blocked sewers or drains, to restore an item or area to an appropriate standard in line with this policy.

Programmed maintenance is targeted maintenance that’s part of a planned program - eg external painting, kitchen or wet area upgrades.

In Aboriginal Communities, programmed maintenance is scheduled during the year and may include plumbing, hot water service and electrical safety checks. Responsive maintenance requests may be addressed during programmed maintenance, depending on timeframes.

Fair wear and tear

Fair wear and tear is deterioration or damage associated with age and reasonable use - eg worn vinyl, dents and scratches to timber flooring, deteriorating fly screens.

Non-fair wear and tear is any damage caused by mistreatment or neglect, regardless of intention - eg broken windows, holes in walls and doors.

Housing SA responsibilities

Housing SA's responsible for:

  • maintaining the property to a suitable standard in line with the Maintenance accommodation standards
  • determining if damage is caused by mistreatment and neglect
  • paying for maintenance costs associated with fair wear and tear
  • investigating and managing insurance claims
  • managing maintenance issues related to domestic abuse in line with the Domestic abuse policy
  • paying for costs associated with non-fair wear and tear due to illegal activity not caused by the tenant or other occupants - eg a break in, stolen keys, if the tenant provides a Police Incident Report number for the incident.

Tenant responsibilities

The tenant’s the person who signed the lease agreement, also known as Conditions of Tenancy, with Housing SA.

Tenants are responsible for:

  • the basic maintenance of the property - eg replacing light globes
  • keeping the property and surrounding area clean and in good condition - eg cleaning, removing rubbish
  • developing and maintaining garden areas that are their responsibility - eg mowing lawns, controlling weeds
  • keeping plumbing fixtures, pipes, water tanks and drainage systems clean and sanitary - eg not flushing sanitary items down the toilet
  • telling Housing SA about any damage, blockage, breakage or deterioration in or around the property as soon as possible
  • providing access to the property so maintenance can be carried out
  • paying Housing SA for costs incurred to fix non-fair wear and tear
  • paying a non-access call-out fee if the tenant reports emergency maintenance but isn’t at home when the contractor arrives to carry out the maintenance for priority 1 orders. This doesn’t apply to tenants living in Aboriginal Communities.

Prioritising maintenance

Maintenance is prioritised depending on how urgent it is.

Priority 1

Maintenance that’s immediately dangerous and may affect someone’s health and safety - eg exposed live electrical parts is Priority 1.

Work starts within four hours of it being reported.

Priority 2

Maintenance that causes a serious inconvenience to the tenant - eg no hot water, blocked toilet, or has the potential to be dangerous - eg unearthed metal light fitting, is Priority 2.

Work starts within 24 hours of it being reported, or at a time agreed to with the tenant.

Priority 3

Maintenance work that’s not urgent - eg dripping taps, leaking gutters or downpipes, is Priority 3.

Work starts within 14 calendar days of it being reported, or at a time agreed to with the tenant.

Priority 4

Repairs with a specific start or completion date as determined by Housing SA - eg programmed maintenance, vacant properties or maintenance that needs a specific start time is Priority 4.

Prioritising maintenance in Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands

Priorities generally align with how maintenance is prioritised in other areas, but with different timeframes.

Priority 1 work generally starts:

  • the same day if it’s reported to the contractor before 1pm
  • the next calendar day if it’s reported after 1pm.

Priority 2 work starts within two calendar days and Priority 3 work within five calendar days of it being reported.

Priority 4 and 5 is work that causes inconvenience or could affect the value of the property in the long-term. Priority is determined by the Maintenance Inspector. Priority 4 work starts within seven calendar days. Priority 5 work starts within 30 calendar days of it being raised by the Maintenance Inspector.

Priority P is assigned to repairs carried out annually or bi-annually with a specific start or completion date as determined by Housing SA - eg electrical safety or water checks.

Home improvements and alterations

Tenants apply to Housing SA for approval to carry out their own home improvements or alterations.

Housing SA assesses the tenant’s request, taking into account:

  • the property’s Future Planning Intent
  • if the alteration’s suitable for the property
  • looking at the property’s certificate of title
  • any encumbrances or easements.

Tenants are responsible for:

  • getting Housing SA’s written approval to carry out the work before starting
  • getting all other relevant approvals - eg from the local council
  • paying for all costs associated with the work - eg paying contractors
  • making sure work is carried out in a trades-like manner by appropriately qualified and licensed professionals - eg electrician
  • providing Housing SA with all documents relating to the approval and installation - eg certificate of compliance, council approval
  • maintaining and repairing improvements or alterations
  • removing the improvement or alteration, and repairing any damage this causes when they leave the property, except if Housing SA agrees to it otherwise.

Related information

Controlling documents

This policy’s based on and complies with:

Supporting documents

  • Substantiation of tenant charges occupied dwellings procedure v9
  • Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands tenant charging guidelines v1
  • Tenant alterations procedure v28
  • Maintenance programs procedure v5
  • Non access procedures v6
  • Property incident and personal injury procedures v1

Related policies and other documents

Date this policy applies from

30 May 2019

Version number


The online version of the policy’s the approved and current version. There’s no guarantee any printed copies are current.

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Provided by:
SA Department for Human Services
Last Updated:
05 Jul 2018
Printed on:
20 Jun 2019
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