Latest Real Estate News

Blog Image

Residential Tenancies Reform: Modifications to rental properties

Tue 11 July 2023

Allowing tenants to make modifications to rental properties without seeking approval from the property owner was one of the proposed changes to the Residential Tenancies Act announced in May.

The announcement sparked concern among investors, with a number sharing their thoughts with REIWA:

“I am not against tenants feeling at home, however I believe this needs to be done in collaboration with the owner.”

“Something as simple as driving a nail into a wall to hang a picture causes major damage when it is removed. It takes out a chunk of plaster, which needs patching. Then the whole wall needs repainting.”

“What if a tenant decides they want to remove a wall or something structural and end up destroying the property? I am sure insurance would not cover this.”
What can tenants do now?

Currently, the agreement tenants have with the owner can prohibit them from making alterations or attaching things like picture hooks, or it may permit certain changes.

Some changes are already permitted without consent. Victims of family and domestic violence can change the locks or make certain security upgrades without the owner’s permission. Some furniture, such as bulky bookcases, cupboards, flat-screen TVs and mobility aids, can be fixed to walls if it helps protect the safety of children or a person with a disability.
What is proposed?

The Government stated: “Tenants will be able to make certain minor modifications to the rental premises and the landlord will only be able to refuse consent on certain grounds”.

It also said: “Tenants who make minor modifications to their rental property may be required to restore the premises to its original condition at the end of the tenancy”.
What happens next?

These changes will not take place immediately. The Government has indicated they will be introduced to Parliament at the end of this year and are likely to come into effect in the second half of 2024.

In the meantime, REIWA is consulting with the Government on the finer details of the reforms. For example, the “certain grounds” property owners can use to refuse modifications have not been determined and there is currently no list stating what qualifies as “certain minor modifications”.

The Government has also indicated there may be two tiers of modifications, but what is in each tier has not been determined. REIWA is working with the Government to develop a list of reasonable modifications.

Stating tenants “may be required” to restore a property to its original condition at the end of a tenancy is a not enough of a safeguard for investment property owners. REIWA is working to clarify under what circumstances tenants will be required to rectify any modifications and how this will be enforced.

Back to News