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21 March 2018

Housing & Property

Natural disasters

Damage to property caused by natural disasters can affect anyone and often catch us unprepared. It can be very disruptive as people rush to have urgent repairs carried out. NSW Fair Trading and other service providers can assist.

This information may help you with the kinds of concerns that could impact you after a natural disaster.

Contact your insurer and/or financial institution early to establish what financial impact any damage may have.

Home repairs

Before undertaking repairs, make sure the tradesperson is licensed for the job that needs doing. Carefully read contracts before signing them and make sure you understand any terms and conditions.

Unsolicited consumer agreements are subject to a 10-day cooling off period and payment cannot be requested during this time.

Search for licensed builders and tradespeople on the Construction Assist website.

Check a licence

Residential building work valued at more than $5,000 (incl GST) in labour and materials, and ALL specialist work including electrical wiring, plumbing, drainage and gasfitting work and air conditioning and refrigeration work (except plug-in appliances) requires a licence in NSW.

Don’t pay any money without a written contract. Protect yourself and your investment by using our online tool to check your tradesperson is qualified and/or licensed to do the job.

Travelling conmen

Beware of travelling conmen and unlicensed traders, who target disaster-affected areas, offering cheap, cash-only repairs to roofs, driveways and damaged trees. Works carried out by them are often defective and undertaken by unqualified people. Remember, if the work is valued over $5000 ask to see a licence

If you take up such offers, you run the risk of:

  • substandard work
  • being left out of pocket if the trader disappears before finishing the job
  • being unable to contact the trader once they have been paid
  • paying more to have a legitimate tradesperson repair shoddy work.

Before you employ a tradesperson:

  • check your insurance policy and find out if you are covered
  • ask around for suitable tradespeople and get quotes
  • ask for a tradesperson’s full name and licence number and check they are licensed to do the work
  • do not pay in full up front
  • be wary of door-to-door offers - get proof that the tradesperson is offering the deal legally and appropriately
  • check with your local council if a building permit or other approval is needed.

Renting your home

Landlords and tenants have rights and responsibilities if their rental property has been affected by a natural disaster, including arranging for urgent repairs, cleaning or clearing any debris caused by a disaster and arranging for utilities to be restored if they were cut-off due to damage to the property.

More information on natural disasters when renting is available.

Rented caravan damaged or uninhabitable

You may be able to terminate your agreement immediately and go elsewhere. You need to notify the Park Manager. You need to give a notice of termination in writing.

Furniture or personal belongings damaged

You need to contact your own insurance company about your contents insurance policy. If you need disaster assistance, visit the Emergency New South Wales website.

Car damage

Contact your own insurance company to have the damage assessed. If the damage can be repaired, make sure you go to a licensed motor vehicle repairer.

Credit, debt and insurance problems

Contact your financial institution or insurer in the first instance. If you are unable to resolve the issue, call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007.

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