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Rental properties: 23 per cent of renters make changes to property without landlord permission

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Almost one-quarter of renters are making changes to their homes without permission.

New research shows a large portion of renters are taking matters into their own hands and making improvements to their rental properties without receiving the go-ahead from their landlord first.

A study conducted by Finder shows almost one in four renters (23 per cent) have made changes to their rental, including repair work, without the permission of their landlord or real estate agent.

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Renters are just as keen as homeowners to make their property feel like home.

About 15 per cent of the nationally representative sample had never sought permission, while five per cent said they had sought approval and were told no and 3 per cent said they never heard back but went ahead with their plans anyway.

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While it varies across states and territories, most standard tenancy agreements require tenants to seek written approval from their landlord or landlord’s agent before making changes to a property.

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Renters must seek their landlord’s permission before making any changes to their home.

In NSW, a landlord cannot unreasonably withhold consent if the change is minor, such as the addition of picture frame hooks, securing furniture to a non-tiled wall for safety, or even planting vegetables and small shrubs so long as existing plants do not need to be removed.

In Queensland, if a tenant makes a change to the property without the landlord’s consent they may be asked to pay for the property to be reinstated to its original condition.

Victoria is the only state where, in most cases, prior landlord approval is not required for the installation of furniture anchors or picture frames so long as the property can be restored to its original condition when the tenancy ends.

Finder money expert Sarah Megginson.

Finder money expert Sarah Megginson said making changes to a rental property without the approval of the landlord was a risky strategy.

“If you’re wanting to make changes or repairs to your home, your first step should be to contact your real estate agent or landlord,” she said.

“Even if the changes are minor, or you think they will add value to the home, you must get written approval first.”

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She said as long as the request is considered minor a landlord should not unreasonably withhold consent.

“The laws surrounding rental properties vary across the states and territories, but typically you should be given permission to make small changes such as securing furniture to walls for safety reasons and installing hooks or nails for hanging pictures on the wall,” she said.


Landlords have a legal responsibility to keep their properties well maintained.

The Rental Specialists principal Jo Natoli said if a tenant does a repair or alteration themselves, they could find themselves liable for anything that goes wrong as a result.

“I’d caution a tenant to think twice before doing that,” she said.

At a routine inspection she once discovered a tenant had removed a built-in study desk without seeking permission first.

She informed them they needed to refit the desk in a tradesmen like manner within the next seven days and that she would need to conduct a second inspection to make sure it had been done.

Had the tenants sought landlord approval first it would have been more likely they could have taken the desk down for the length of their stay subject to certain conditions being met in order to protect against damage.

Renters can apply to the residential tribunal if a landlord has refused or ignored a repair request.

“The fact that they didn’t ask permission was the issue,” she said.

When it comes to making alterations it can be useful for renters to know what minor changes a landlord cannot unreasonably refuse.

“A landlord has a responsibility to make sure a property is in good working order,” she said.

“A lot of renters are concerned that if they come across as wingers they may cop a rent increase or worse, but they shouldn’t be concerned about that.”

“A good property manager should pick up the maintenance requirements of the property when doing regular inspections.”

NSW tenants whose landlords have refused or ignored a repair request can apply to the residential tribunal and seek an order for the owner to complete repairs and maintenance.

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