NSW Alterations and Additions to Rented Premises

Tenants can only make alterations to the premises if the landlord gives consent. The best option to discuss the need and reason for any alteration before going ahead with it.

This guide covers landlords (or head-tenants) and tenants (or sub-tenants) in a Residential Tenancy. This applies to the majority of share accommodation and residential property rental situations. To confirm it covers your situation visit What is my share accommodation situation?

Who can make alterations and additions to the premises?

Before making any kind of alteration or addition to the property, the tenant should carefully consider whether they need the landlord’s consent and how it might affect the long-term value and nature of the rented premises.

The tenant can only install a ‘fixture’, or make renovations / alterations / additions to the rented premises if the landlord gives consent. Any fixtures installed or changes made must be at the tenant’s expense, unless agreed otherwise by the landlord and tenant.

Fixtures vs Fittings
A ‘fixture’ is a good that the tenant brings onto the rented premises, and which becomes part of the rented premises. Fixtures are normally attached to the premises in some way. Common examples of fixtures include carpets, gas stoves, or built in air-conditioners.

Goods brought onto the premises that are not fixtures are called ‘fittings’ and include blinds, portable ovens, free-standing sheds, and portable air conditioners. The tenant only needs the consent of the landlord to install fixtures, not for fittings.

Gaining consent to install a fixture
The best approach to any kind of addition or alteration is for the tenant and landlord to discuss it and come to a mutually convenient agreement. Landlords should be aware that tenants may sometimes need to install fixtures or change the premises to suit their needs. Tenants should also remember that the premises is the property of the landlord and that any changes they make could effect its long-term value.

The landlord can only refuse to give consent for fixtures or alterations if it is reasonable to do so. If the tenant believes that the landlord’s withholding of consent is unreasonable, then they can apply to the Tribunal for an order allowing a fixture to be installed or an alteration made. The Tribunal is most likely to make an order in favour of the tenant if the proposed alteration is relatively minor. If, however, the proposed alteration involves structural changes, cannot easily be rectified / removed, involves internal or external painting, is prohibited by law, or is inconsistent with the nature of the property, then the Tribunal is more likely to not make an order.

How should fixtures be removed?

The tenant can remove any fixture they have installed at any time before the end of the tenancy. The removal must be done at the tenant’s expense. If, however, the fixture was installed at the landlord’s expense, then the tenant cannot remove it without the consent of the landlord.

If any damage is caused to the property by the tenant while removing a fixture, the tenant must notify the landlord of the damage and should also compensate the landlord for cost of repairing the damage.

What can the landlord do about alterations they didn’t consent to?

The landlord can apply to the Tribunal for an order preventing the tenant from removing a fixture, or for an order that the tenant must compensate the landlord for rectifying alterations made by the tenant. The tribunal will only make an order if the work is not of a satisfactory standard (i.e. it’s defective) or will adversely affect the landlord’s ability to lease the property to other tenants.

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These legal guides provide a brief summary and introduction of the laws and regulations affecting share accommodation. They do not cover all cases in all legal jurisdictions and might not apply in your specific share accommodation situation. It is important that you use this information as a guide only and seek independent Legal Advice or consult the Relevant Acts. We do not accept any liability that may arise from the use of this information.