“Can I attach a fixture or make alterations in my property? How do I know what’s allowed and what’s not?” Tenant, NSW
We asked LJ Hooker Gosford Business Development Manager, Madeleine Smith for her advice.
No changes without consent
Madeleine said that generally speaking, yes, you can attach a fixture or make alterations to your rental property, but you have to ask first.
“Your landlord cannot unreasonably refuse for you to make small alterations, such as putting up picture hooks or installing Foxtel,” she said.
“For example, they may permit you to put one hook in the middle of the wall, but not six hooks. If you are unsure, ask your agent/landlord.”
If you make a change without consent, you are in breach of the terms of your tenancy agreement. If you breach your agreement, your landlord can apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal for an order that you comply with your agreement and restore the property to its original condition.
Your landlord may not unreasonably refuse to give you consent to add a fixture or make a change that’s of a fairly minor nature. The law in NSW gives some guidance as to situations where it could be reasonable for them to say no. This could include work which:
- Involves structural changes (you want to knock out a wall);
- is not reasonably capable of being rectified, repaired or removed;
- is not consistent with the nature of the property (you want to install modern fixtures on a heritage property);
- is prohibited under a law (such as a strata by-law); or
- involves painting.
Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list. There may be other reasonable reasons that your landlord chooses to decline your request. However, the landlord should let you know what the reason is if they do say no, and preferably this should come in writing. If you think that your landlord is not being reasonable in their decision, you can apply to the Tribunal for permission to make the change.
Have a question you would like to see answered here? Let us know!
NSW tenancy legislation does not define what is a change of a ‘minor nature’ – generally, this depends on the property and the circumstances. So, it becomes up to you and your landlord to agree on, or for the Tribunal to resolve should a dispute arise.
Here are a few examples of common types of requests that you may think are reasonable:
- installing extra window safety devices for small children;
- installing additional security features above what is required;
- having a phone line connected;
- connecting to the National Broadband Network;
- putting a reasonable number of picture hooks in the wall;
- planting some vegetables or flowers in the garden;
- connecting to Foxtel;
- replacing the toilet seat; or
- installing a grab rail in the shower for elderly or disabled occupants.
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