Rental law changes: What is a 'minor change', and what exactly does that mean for us?
If a tenant asks their landlord if they can make a "minor change" to the property, the landlord cannot unreasonably say no. The law outlines seven requirements a change must meet to be considered minor:
they have to pose no more than a low-risk of damage to the property
must be easily reversible
must not pose a health and safety risk (including during installation and removal)
must not compromise the building's structural integrity or weathertightness
must not need regulatory consent
must not negatively affect third parties
and can't be in breach of bylaws, covenants or body corporate rules.
Aside from that, it's up to tenants and landlords to figure it out for themselves - or if they can't agree, go head-to-head at the Tenancy Tribunal. Below is the list of things that the landlords cannot turn down.
installing minor changes that improve safety for disabled people, such as visual alerts for fire, security alarms and doorbells
securing furniture or appliances to protect against earthquake risk or to make a property child-safe
installing dishwashers and washing machines
installing a baby gate
affixing child safe latches to cupboards
installing television aerials
installing gardens when these can be returned to the original state at the conclusion of the tenancy
installing curtains and window coverings
installing internal locks provided they are compliant with relevant fire safety laws
and installing picture hooks.
What is the process? A tenant must make a request for the minor change in writing and the landlord must respond to this request within 21 days. If the requested change is minor, it is not reasonable to decline. If the landlord declines unreasonably, the tenant can take the landlord to the Tenancy Tribunal and they could be liable for a penalty of up to $1,500. If the change is more than minor, a landlord can decline if the request is unreasonable. This will depend on the situation and landlords should weigh up the benefits and potential impacts to their property of the change the tenant is proposing.