Making minor changes in a rental property

Wednesday 29 Jul 2020

Tenants can install fixtures or make alterations, additions or renovations if they have the landlord’s written consent, or if the tenancy agreement permits it. If the tenant’s request for a fixture or alteration, addition or renovation is of a ‘minor nature’ then the landlord must not unreasonably withhold consent. The tenant must pay for the fixture they install or for any alteration, renovation or addition to the property that they make, unless the landlord agrees otherwise.

The Regulation lists the kinds of fixtures or alterations, additions or renovations that are minor where it would be unreasonable for the landlord to say no:

  1. securing furniture to a non-tiled wall for safety reasons
  2. fitting a childproof latch to an outdoor gate of a single dwelling
  3. inserting fly screens on windows
  4. installing or replacing an internal window covering e.g. curtains and removable blinds
  5. installing cleats or cord guides to secure blind or curtain cords
  6. installing child safety gates inside the property
  7. installing window safety devices for child safety
  8. installing hand-held shower heads or lever-style taps to assist elderly or disabled occupants
  9. installing or replacing hooks, nails or screws for hanging paintings, picture frames and other similar items
  10. installing phone line or internet connection
  11. planting vegetables, flowers, herbs or shrubs (shrubs that don’t grow more than two metres) in the garden if existing vegetation or plants do not need to be removed
  12. installing a wireless removable outdoor security camera
  13. applying shatter-resistant film to window or glass doors
  14. making modifications that don’t penetrate a surface, or permanently modify a surface, fixture or structure of the property.

The Regulation also specifies that a landlord may require that the following changes be carried out by a qualified person:

  • installing hand-held shower heads or lever-style taps to assist elderly or disabled occupants
  • installing a phone line or internet connection

The changes do not apply if a property is listed on the loose-fill asbestos insulation register, or if the property is a heritage item. Some restrictions and exclusions also apply to property in a strata scheme, residential land lease community, or to social housing properties.

Even if the fixture, alteration, addition or renovation is included in the above list, tenants must still get the landlord’s written permission. However, for changes that are on the list and not covered by an exemption, it is unreasonable for the landlord to refuse consent or place conditions on the consent.

For more information visit https://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/housing-and-property/renting

- Mark Hahne