Tenants must get consent before making changes to the property.
- be in line with the tenancy agreement, or
- the tenant must have the landlord's written consent (the landlord can’t unreasonably withhold consent).
Tenants can't remove fixtures if it will cause damage to the property that can’t be repaired. Sometimes landlords let tenants add new fixtures on the condition that they become the landlord’s property at the end of the tenancy (because of the damage that would occur if removed).
Any fixture put up by a tenant that isn’t removed at the end of the tenancy becomes the property of the landlord. This doesn’t apply if the landlord and tenant have come to a different agreement.
If you’re a tenant and you cause damage when removing fixtures, tell the landlord. The landlord can then tell you whether they want you to fix the damage, or compensate them.
Tenants can make minor changes to the property
From 11 February 2021 under the Residential Tenancies Act 2020, tenants can ask to make changes to the rental property and landlords must not decline if the change is minor.
Minor changes to the property include fixtures like:
- visual fire alarms and doorbells
- baby-proofing, e.g. a baby gate
- earthquake-proofing, e.g. securing a bookshelf to the wall.
Tenant responsibilities for making a minor change
- Make the request to the landlord in writing.
- Receive landlord’s permission (which must be within 21 days) before making the minor change to the property (the landlord can ask to extend the timeframe).
- Pay the installation costs (unless otherwise agreed with the landlord).
- At the end of the tenancy, remove the fitting that was installed (unless landlord agrees it can stay).
- Return the property to substantially the same condition it was in before the minor change was made.
Landlord responsibilities for making a minor change
- Respond in writing within 21 days of receiving the tenant’s request to say whether the change is considered minor or not.
- If the change is minor, give written permission within 21 days.
- If the change is considered more than minor and more time is needed to consider the request, give the tenant written notice stating that the 21 days will be extended by a reasonable time.
- Landlords must not decline minor changes but may set reasonable conditions.
Definition of a minor change to the property
A minor change is defined as any fixture, renovation, alteration or addition to the property that:
- has a low risk of damage to the property
- can be easily reversed (property can be returned to substantially the same condition)
- doesn’t pose a risk to health and safety
- doesn’t compromise the structural integrity, weathertightness or character of the property
- doesn’t affect anyone’s enjoyment or use of the property
- doesn’t require regulatory consent
- doesn’t breach any regulatory rules.