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.”