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Call for ACT tenants to put up pictures and paint homes without landlord permission

Glynis Quinlan 19 October 2018 118
The ACT Greens want tenants to be able to paint their homes and put up picture hooks without needing landlord permission.

The ACT Greens want tenants to be able to paint their homes and put up picture hooks without needing landlord permission.

The ACT Greens are calling for tenants to be able to ‘make a house a home’ by being permitted to make minor modifications to their rental properties without needing the consent of their landlords.

The proposed minor modifications or alterations include installing picture hooks and furniture anchors, painting and putting up shelving.

Sections 67 and 68 of the Residential Tenancies Act states that the “tenant must make no alterations and must not add any fixtures or fittings without the written consent of the lessor” but the alterations are not defined.

“The vast majority of renters do the right thing by their landlords—they pay rent on time, and they provide a not insubstantial bond as insurance,” said Greens Housing spokesperson Caroline Le Couteur.

“As long as any fixtures and fittings are removed at the end of the tenancy and any damage to the property rectified, then you shouldn’t need to seek out written permission from your landlord.

“This is all part of making a house a home,” Ms Le Couteur said.

“The Greens are committed to ensuring there’s a reasonable balance between the rights of landlords and the rights of tenants, particularly at a time of housing crisis.”

According to Ms Le Couteur, almost one in three Canberrans (31.8 per cent) live in rental properties and recent research from the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute has found a national trend towards more private renters with children, more middle-aged renters, and more long-term renters (10+ years).

“There are also safety implications to consider,” Ms Le Couteur said.

“We don’t want renters to avoid implementing key safety actions, like securing furniture that could injure young children.”

Ms Le Couteur said that in France, Sweden, and Italy tenants have the right to make minor alterations and improvements to the property without asking the landlord’s permission.

“The Greens do have a range of concerns with gaps in the Residential Tenancies’ Act, which the community regularly tell us about,” Ms Le Couteur added.

“We know that the Attorney-General is bringing forward legislation very soon, so we will wait and see which issues the Government addresses in their bill. We look forward to drafting amendments to address these community concerns.”


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118 Responses to Call for ACT tenants to put up pictures and paint homes without landlord permission
russianafroman 12:09 pm 25 Feb 19

It’s not your house. Plain and simple. This will only result in less rental properties overall, which will mean less options for people and an increase in the rates people will pay. This is a pointless lose-lose situation.

    Jim9 3:00 pm 25 Feb 19

    That is a simple view of the world, that doesn’t take into any 2nd order effects.

    Yes, some landlords may choose to no longer have rental properties and dispose of them. But greater supply of property in the market should then open opportunities, if prices drop (As increased supply often leads to) for people currently renting to become owner-occupiers, in itself a good outcome.

    Its not a straightforward ‘lose lose’ situation as you suggest.

    russianafroman 6:47 pm 25 Feb 19

    Where was it stated that this will result in a greater supply of property? As you admitted, landlords may (will) dispose of their rental properties. Your entire comment is based around an assertion that makes no sense. It doesn’t take a genius to realise that this law will scare away landlords even more than they already are, they’ll be far less likely to be willing to rent to people. This law doesn’t help anyone and is completely unneeded.

Peter Mackay Peter Mackay 11:20 am 25 Feb 19

I've been landlord and tenant over the years, and I can't see anything onerous about asking permission to do structural work. And that includes banging hooks into walls.

Ninety percent of the tenant/landlord relationship is amicable. Good tenants treat the house they live in with care, and good landlords fight to keep good tenants. There will be a bit of give and take, and both sides will be happy.

Some landlords will exploit tenants, and some tenants will treat the property poorly. Making it easier for these sorts of people to prosper is exactly what we shouldn't be doing.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 11:33 am 25 Feb 19

    I too have been in both positions. Usually all a good tenant had to do was ask me. Can I dig up the back garden and put in a vegetable garden - yes, can I add an air conditioner to a window - yes, can I have pets - yes. None asked about painting, but if they had, as long as I agreed on the colour, I would have said yes. That is good tenants, the bad ones I would have refused them, as their incompetence would have made any project a potential disaster. The trouble with allowing changes without permission is it could cause huge expense to the owner when the tenant leaves; changing orange walls for instance back to white.

Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 11:07 am 25 Feb 19

I know this is an older thread, but I found a similar discussion on Quora about tenants painting houses. Orange and black walls anyone. Read the comments. https://www.quora.com/Would-I-charge-my-landlord-the-original-cost-for-the-goods-we-purchased-whilst-living-in-his-property-or-their-market-value-when-we-move-out

BlowMeDown 1:19 pm 02 Nov 18

I’ve thought about renting out my unit and discovered everything is more expensive when you do, such as interest rates, insurance, rates (via the new tax) and of course management fees etc. Landlords don’t make much out of the deal.

I don’t see why this can’t be left as a negotiation. The tenant does not know what their changes could affect and some changes simply can’t be undone, e.g. the photo shows a tenant painting a masonry wall. If the landlord did not wan’t it painted it is almost impossible to get it back to original condition.

BlowMeDown 1:05 pm 02 Nov 18

Apparently I need a FB account to reply to FB comments.

So to Rob Thomas who asked “And if they make it better?” the answer is “increase the rent” because the value of the property has risen.

Brett Everingham Brett Everingham 5:04 pm 25 Oct 18

This IS Great, But!,the ACT Government Has already reccomended, approved and Varified ,More allowed Home Matienence by Renting Tenants, nearly a Year ago..Although it's Old News,But very welcome News,ACTHousing Tenants were given the go-ahead to self maintenance their Rented Property a long time before this recent News for a Call to do so..Great News nethertheless..

Joanne Jordan Joanne Jordan 8:25 pm 23 Oct 18

And having a pet?

Helen Stephenson Helen Stephenson 8:24 am 22 Oct 18

Absolutely! It’s important to make a house feel like a home!

David Chadwick David Chadwick 2:44 am 22 Oct 18

Yes abd no. The idea is good and it will enhance a few lives. However, as someone who has allowed tennants to decorate and garden without restraint I can say not everyone is good at it. I have ended up spending thousands restoring property after tennants have left them in appalling states if disrepair and decoration. One tennant I had dug up his garden meaning to put in veggies. Halfway through he realised how hard the work this was and planted his old Holden instead it was there for five years until he finally did a runner leaving me with the cost of scrapping it.

Caitlin Hanby Caitlin Hanby 8:10 pm 21 Oct 18

I think economic heating for tenants is more important in the ACT

Dot Hepburn Dot Hepburn 3:22 pm 21 Oct 18

Happy for picture hooks, but please don't paint/decorate my walls - unless it's repainted at the end of the lease

Mohammed Islam Fahim Mohammed Islam Fahim 2:11 pm 21 Oct 18

Yes with hooks provided property is returned with no damage due to these hooks. Absolutely no to paintings.

Joanna Van-Lane Joanna Van-Lane 2:04 pm 21 Oct 18

Maybe for long term tenants, but this opens up massive hassles for Landlords when they get a bad tenant. While most are great and bonds are intended to protect Landlords for the bad ones, the extent of what is being proposed would mean that bonds would have to increase to cover the risk of greater damage like walls needing to be replastered from structural damage of badly installed shelving or paying a painter to cover up the thin coat of paint over the turquoise wall. There’s only so much a bond will cover. Alternatively, open up longer term rental agreements where this is permissible and it’s reasonable to ask the landlord to wear a higher maintenance cost.

Michelle Ayers Michelle Ayers 10:43 am 21 Oct 18

Hooks yes! Painting.... not unless they want to return it to the way it was before they moved in. I've rented for 30 years of my life, I don't have rental properties.

Debbie Nizette Debbie Nizette 9:58 am 21 Oct 18

Landlords, why not do yourselves a favour and put picture rails [as in earlier houses], saves nail and screw holes, painting etc. just a thought

    Ella Factor Ella Factor 12:23 pm 22 Oct 18

    I literally chose my current rental because it has picture rails!

Louise Jane Dickson Louise Jane Dickson 9:01 am 21 Oct 18

If you put pictures up I am fairly sure the next people will do. Leave the hooks there.

Penny Gordon Penny Gordon 8:38 am 21 Oct 18

At the end of the day, the landlord owns the property. Tenants shouldn't have a blanket right to make adjustments to the property, there has to be negotiation between both parties.

Justin Sevi Justin Sevi 8:32 am 21 Oct 18

Sure, triple the bond and compulsory repaint at end of lease at renter expense.

Toni Isaacson Toni Isaacson 8:11 pm 20 Oct 18

I can live without the paint but would dearly love a pet.

Lynne Audsley Lynne Audsley 8:08 pm 20 Oct 18

You can't always assume a landlord has purchased the property purely as a rental property - sometimes you are renting someone's home while they are absent for any number of reasons. Making changes comes down to mutual consent and respect, not a blanket law to be followed.

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