As detailed in our post "What Are The Changes To Residential Tenancy Laws In NSW Which Start on 23 March 2020?", there are significant changes to NSW residential tenancy laws which come into effect from 23 March 2020.
One such change is that tenants will have improved clarity around their ability to make alterations, additions or renovations during their tenancy.
Prior to 23 March 2020, changes such as this have been permitted if the tenant has the landlord’s written consent, or if the residential tenancy agreement permits it. The tenant must also pay for the fixture they install or for any alteration, renovation or addition to the property, unless the landlord agrees otherwise. 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.
Where matters have been clarified from 23 March 2020 onwards is that the Residential Tenancies Regulation 2019 makes clear a list of the kinds of alterations which are considered of a "minor nature" and therefore to which it would be unreasonable for a landlord to withhold consent. These changes include:
(a) securing furniture to a wall of premises, other than a tiled wall, if it is necessary for the safe use of the furniture,
(b) fitting a childproof latch to an exterior gate of a single dwelling,
(c) inserting fly screens on windows,
(d) installing or replacing an internal window covering,
(e) installing cleats or cord guides to secure blind or curtain cords,
(f) installing child safety gates inside the premises,
(g) installing window safety devices for child safety,
(h) installing hand-held shower heads or lever-style taps for the purpose of assisting elderly or disabled people,
(i) installing or replacing hooks, nails or screws for hanging paintings, picture frames and other similar items,
(j) installing a carriage service for connecting a phone line or accessing the internet and any facility or customer equipment associated with the provision of the service,
(k) planting vegetables, flowers, herbs or shrubs if--
(i) existing vegetation or plants do not need to be removed, and
(ii) for shrubs—the shrubs will not grow to more than 2 metres in height,
(l) installing, on the residential premises to which the residential tenancy agreement relates, a wireless removable outdoor security camera. Note that the Surveillance Devices Act 2007 regulates the installation, use and maintenance of surveillance devices.
(m) applying shatter-resistant film to windows or glass doors,
(n) making a modification that does not penetrate a surface, or permanently modify a surface, fixture or the structure of the premises.
Importantly, NSW Fair Trading states that "Even if the fixture, alteration, addition or renovation is included in the above list, tenants are still required to get the landlord’s written consent to the change".
Further detail around the tenancy law changes coming into effect 23 March 2020 can be found in this post: "What Are The Changes To Residential Tenancy Laws In NSW Which Start on 23 March 2020?".
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