Tenancy law change: making changes to your rental property
There have been some recent changes to tenancy law (the Residential Tenancies Act 1986), which may make things easier for disabled people living in rental properties.
The changes mean landlords can’t decline a tenant’s request to make changes to their rental property - if the change is minor.
If the change isn’t considered ‘minor’, landlords can set reasonable conditions but can’t unreasonably decline the request.
Please note: the following information has been provided to the Office for Disability Issues by Tenancy Services , who should be your point of contact for any questions about this.
Process for making a change:
- Tenant requests, in writing, the landlord’s permission to make a change to the rental property. Tenants can use the template on the Tenancy Services website for this request.
- The landlord responds to the request within 21 days of receiving it. Landlords can use the template on the Tenancy Services website for this response.
- If the change is minor, the landlord gives their written permission within 21 days. If the change is considered more than minor, the landlord may take more time to consider the request. They need to give the tenant written notice stating that the 21 days will be extended by a reasonable time.
The landlord can’t unreasonably decline the tenant’s request but they can set reasonable conditions.
- If permission is received, the tenant makes the change, paying for any costs (unless otherwise agreed with the landlord).
- On or before the end of the tenancy, if the change was minor, the tenant must return the property to substantially the same condition it was in before the change was made (unless the landlord agrees otherwise).
If the change was more than minor the tenant must meet any reasonable conditions the landlord attached. This may include returning the property to the same condition it was in before the change was made.
What changes are considered minor?
A minor change is any fixture, renovation, alteration or addition to the property that:
- has a low risk of material damage to the property
- can be easily reversed
- 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.
Examples of minor changes may include:
- installing a grab rail in the bathroom
- installing visual fire alarms and doorbells (the Fire Service has more information about these alarms )
- putting up curtain railings
- earthquake proofing (eg, securing a bookshelf to the wall).
Other changes to tenancy law
This is one of a number of recent changes to tenancy law. If you’re renting, or a landlord, you can read more about the changes on the Tenancy Services website.
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