Blog Series: New Residential Tenancies Laws – Changes of a ‘Minor Nature’

 

A new section 66(2A) has been inserted into the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (NSW), setting out that certain alterations, additions, renovations and fixtures may be prescribed as of a “minor nature” and that the landlord is not able to unreasonably withhold consent.

Further, with respect to certain prescribed minor changes, the landlord may give consent on the condition that an appropriately qualified person makes the change.

On and from 23 March 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.

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 new 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:

  • Securing furniture to a non-tiled wall for safety reasons
  • Fitting a childproof latch to an outdoor gate of a single dwelling
  • Inserting fly screens on windows
  • Installing or replacing an internal window covering e.g. curtains and removable blinds
  • Installing cleats or cord guides to secure blind or curtain cords
  • Installing child safety gates inside the property
  • Installing window safety devices for child safety
  • Installing hand-held showerheads or lever-style taps to assist elderly or disabled occupants
  • Installing or replacing hooks, nails or screws for hanging paintings, picture frames and other similar items
  • Installing phone line or internet connection
  • Planting vegetables, flowers, herbs or shrubs (shrubs that don’t grow more than two meters) in the garden if existing vegetation or plants do not need to be removed
  • Installing a wireless removable outdoor security camera
  • Applying shatter-resistant film to window or glass doors
  • Making modifications that don’t penetrate a surface, or permanently modify a surface, fixture or structure of the property.

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

  • Installing hand-held showerheads 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.

Our next topic will cover the limiting of rent increases to once every 12 months for periodic (continuing) leases

Stay tuned.

SCA (NSW), are here to help our members transition to the new laws.

If you would like to read about all the changes for tenants and landlords alike, please visit the Department of Fair Trading’s website here.