This information is a guide and should not be used as a substitute for professional legal advice.

Modifications

You can make some changes or modifications to your rental property. Some you can make without the consent of the rental provider (landlord), while others need their approval – but this cannot be unreasonably refused.

Limits on modifications

In most instances the modifications allowed under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 are limited to those that do not penetrate or permanently modify any of the surfaces or fixtures at the property, or the structure of the property. There are additional limitations if the property has heritage protections.

Removing modifications

If you make any modifications to the property, even with the rental provider’s written consent, when you move out you will:

  • Be responsible for restoring your rental property to the condition it was in before the modification was made, save for fair wear and tear, or
  • If you do not undertake this work yourself, need to pay the rental provider an amount equal to the reasonable cost of having the property restored to that condition

There are exceptions to these requirements:

  • The rental provider says restoration is not required, or
  • There is an agreement in place between you and the rental provider that restoration does not need to be done [section 64]

Before making any modifications, we recommend you try to get a clear, written agreement with the rental provider that on moving out you do not have to remove any modifications, or pay to have them removed.

Note that on this page sections in brackets, such as [section 64], refer to sections in Victoria’s Residential Tenancies Act 1997 or regulations in the Residential Tenancies Regulations 2021. There are links to these sections in the Resources section below.

Additional bond

If you cannot get the rental provider to agree that you do not have to remove any modifications on moving out, or pay to have them removed, they may ask you to pay an additional amount of bond.

However, they cannot request an additional bond if:

  • The additional amount is less than $500
  • The amount is not proportionate to the reasonable cost of restoring the property
  • The rental provider has agreed that the modification is funded by a scheme under a condition that the rented premises does not need to be restored [section 64]

If you are asked to pay an additional bond amount that is not reasonable you can apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for orders that an additional bond is not required, or to limit the amount of additional bond that can be requested [sections 64 and 452].

For more information on the rental providers’ obligations when they ask for a bond payment see our page Bonds.

When consent is not required

You can make some modifications to your home without needing the rental provider’s consent.

For all properties these include installing:

  • Non-permanent window film to increase privacy or insulation
  • Wireless doorbell
  • Replacement curtains, if you keep the originals
  • Lock on a letterbox
  • Adhesive child-safety locks on drawers or doors
  • Pressure mounted child-safety gates

And for properties that are not heritage listed, you do not need consent for installing:

  • Picture hooks or screws for wall mounts, shelves or brackets in walls, provided the devices do not penetrate walls that are exposed brick or concrete
  • In-wall anchoring devices, provided the walls are not exposed brick or concrete
  • Hardware-mounted child-safety gates, provided the walls are not exposed brick or concrete
  • LED light globes, provided they do not need changed light fittings
  • Water-efficient shower head, if you keep the original
  • Blind or cord anchors
  • Security lights, alarm systems or security cameras that can easily be removed, are not hard-wired and do not impact on the privacy of neighbours [section 64, regulation 26]

When consent is required

For any other modifications you will need to get the rental provider’s consent. However, they cannot unreasonably refuse to give their consent for any modifications that:

  • Are needed for health and safety purposes
  • Are reasonable security measures
  • Are necessary to ensure the safety of a renter who is, or has been, subjected to family or personal violence by another renter: note that an intervention order is required where there is personal violence
  • Are required by a renter who has a disability, as determined by an accredited occupational therapist or prescribed practitioner, and are reasonable alterations within section 55 of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010
  • Are needed to increase thermal comfort or reduce energy and water usage costs
  • Give access to telecommunications services
  • Do not penetrate or permanently modify the surfaces, fixtures or structure of the property [section 64]

Rental providers also cannot unreasonably refuse to give their consent for any of the following modifications:

  • Picture hooks or screws for wall mounts, shelves or brackets or in wall anchoring devices if the walls are exposed brick or concrete
  • Hardware-mounted child-safety gates if the walls are exposed brick or concrete
  • Draught-proofing in homes, provided there are not any unflued gas heaters
  • A security system by a qualified installer, provided you keep the invoice, and the privacy of your neighbours is not impacted
  • A secure letterbox
  • Flywire on doors or windows
  • Painting the property
  • Changes to secure external gates, provided you don’t live in a multi-unit dwelling
  • Herb or vegetable garden [section 64, regulation 28]

When consent is reasonably refused

There are some circumstances in which it would be considered reasonable for a rental provider to refuse to give their consent. These include if:

  • A valid notice to vacate has been given advising that there will be an upcoming change of possession, use or ownership of the property
  • The modification would significantly change the property or would require further modifications to other properties or common areas
  • The modification would result in additional maintenance costs for the rental provider if it was not restored to its original condition at the end of the rental agreement (lease)
  • It would not be reasonably practicable to restore the property to its original condition after the modification has been made [section 64]

When consent is unreasonably refused

If the rental provider unreasonably refuses to give their consent for a modification, you can apply to VCAT for an order that the consent of the rental provider is not required. The application must be heard by VCAT within 5 business days [section 64].

However, if an application has been made about the same issue under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 it cannot also be made to VCAT under its Residential Tenancies List for disputes between renters and rental providers [section 64].

Resources

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