Tenants installing fixtures and altering the rental property

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In a short-term lease (up to five years)

A tenant must not, without the landlord's consent, install any fixtures or make any alteration, renovation or addition to the rented premises. If the landlord does consent, they are not required to reimburse any costs to the tenant.

If a landlord becomes aware that a tenant has installed any fixtures or made any alterations without consent, the landlord may serve the tenant a Notice for breach of duty to tenant/s of rented premises (Word, 468KB) requiring the tenant to:

  • restore the rented premises to the condition they were in immediately before the installation, or
  • compensate the landlord an amount equal to the reasonable cost of restoring the premises to that condition.

If the tenant fails to comply with the breach of duty notice, the landlord may apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to get a compliance order or may serve a second breach of duty notice.

Before a tenancy agreement ends, a tenant who has installed fixtures on or renovated, altered or added to the rented premises (even with the landlord's written consent) must restore the premises to their original condition unless an agreement is reached with the landlord to allow the alterations to remain. Such agreements should be in writing.

In a long-term lease (more than five years)

A long-term lease agreement using Form 2 allows the landlord and tenant to agree to certain modifications upfront when negotiating the terms of a long-term lease agreement. This allows tenants to make the agreed modifications without having to get further landlord permission, as these are written into the lease.

If the tenant wants to make any other changes to the property not already listed in the lease, the tenant must get the landlord’s written permission to do so. The tenant and landlord should record their agreement on an additional copy of Part E of the long-term lease agreement (Form 2).

The landlord must not unreasonably refuse consent for alterations or modifications.

It may be reasonable for the landlord to refuse consent for modifications if the property:

  • has heritage protections which would be adversely affected by the modification
  • would be non-compliant with other legislative requirements. For example, to install security screens on the windows of a downstairs apartment, if the fire evacuation rules state that the windows must be able to be opened in an emergency
  • would be devalued
  • is about to be sold.  

If the landlord refuses consent

If the landlord refuses consent for a particular modification, the tenant should first ask why the request was refused, as there may be a legitimate reason. 

A tenant who believes the landlord is unreasonably refusing consent can apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for a ruling on the matter.

Agreeing on and documenting modifications

The landlord and tenant should also decide who pays for modifications and whether the tenant is responsible for reversing any modifications when they leave.

Examples only (outcomes may differ in individual cases):

  • If the tenant installs a dishwasher:
    • the landlord and tenant can agree for it to remain in the property, or
    • if the landlord does not want the dishwasher to remain, they can approve the modification on the condition that the tenant either remove the dishwasher before they leave or reimburse the landlord for the cost of removal.

Whatever is agreed should be written into the Alterations and restoration requirements section (Part E) of the long-term lease agreement (Form 2) and signed by both the landlord and the tenant. If the tenant makes any changes to the property that are not stated in the agreement, the landlord may require the tenant to reverse the modification before they leave – even if the landlord agreed to it verbally.

Modifications for tenants with a disability

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) may fund modifications, such as ramps, hand rails or lever taps, to make the rented premises safe and accessible for a tenant with a disability.

Tenants must have the written agreement of the landlord (and the owners corporation, if applicable) before any modifications take place.

For more information, visit the Home modifications page on the NDIS website.