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Alterations to a Home Policy

1. Background

Tenants may be able to undertake alterations to their homes after first seeking approval from the NSW Land and Housing Corporation. This policy explains how alteration requests and work to a LAHC owned property is managed.

2. Scope

This policy applies to properties owned by the NSW Land and Housing Corporation (LAHC) and the Aboriginal Housing Office (AHO) whose tenancies are managed by Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ).  This policy does not apply to Headleased properties.

3. Policy statement

Tenants can seek permission to undertake alterations to their home. Factors considered when reviewing an application include:

  • extent of work required
  • consistency of the alteration with the nature, classification and future use of the property
  • compliance with NSW Land and Housing Corporation’s Component Requirements
  • compliance with National Construction Code
  • approval requirements, conditions and standards set down by relevant statutory authority (i.e. local council, Heritage NSW)

Approval will be given 'in principle' when considering alterations which require third party (i.e. council) authorisation. Final approval will be granted only when the third party issues that authorisation.

Responsibilities and conditions

An alteration without written permission breaches the Residential Tenancy Agreement and action can be taken in the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) to request that the tenant remove the alteration or make good any damage caused by their removal.

Tenants must agree to the following conditions:

  • Submit a detailed written request of the alteration and copies of any plans or drawings.
  • Submit copies of all required approvals, including ‘in principle’ approvals, final approvals and those from Heritage NSW if the property is heritage listed.
  • Oversee the construction of the work and repair any damage to the property caused during construction work.
  • Ensure work is carried out in accordance with Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 and by qualified/licensed contractors (where required).
  • Pay all costs associated with installing, maintaining and removing the alteration.
  • Notify DCJ when work is completed and submit copies of any certificates issued.
  • Maintain the alteration throughout the term of the tenancy.
  • Remove the alteration at the end of the lease and make good any damage caused by the removal, unless provided with a written waiver. Failure to remove the alteration will result in charges under Tenant Repair Costs Policy.
  • Where removal waivers are issued the alteration becomes the property of the landlord (NSW Land and Housing Corporation or Aboriginal Housing Office).

Completed alterations must:

  • match the current design (both internal and external)
  • not impact on any entry or exit
  • not impact the adjoining neighbours
  • not impact the structural integrity of the property
  • not change the current property configuration.

Applications for alterations will be declined if the proposed alteration:

  • cannot be maintained or removed easily
  • involves major internal or any external painting
  • is not consistent with the nature of the property
  • is prohibited under any law or fails to comply with existing caveats or covenants.

Extent of work

Minor alterations may be permitted without prior written approval. These include the following examples:

  • installing telephones
  • installing picture hooks
  • installing garden sheds no bigger than 7 square metres
  • installing a worm farm or compost bin
  • building a garden bed that must be more than 1 metre away from existing buildings
  • laying lawn
  • planting trees or shrubs that will grow no more than 3 metres in height, when fully mature and are planted at least 3 metres from any existing structure. Refer to Alterations to a Home Policy Supplement.

All other alterations to the leased premises and common area require written consent and approval prior to commencing work. These may include:

Reimbursement

A tenant can apply for reimbursement for approved alterations, excluding swimming pools, only when:

  • the tenant is relocated for management purposes to another property which does not have comparable alterations or amenities; and
  • the alterations cannot be removed and relocated to the new property.

Reimbursement will be calculated by determining the value of the alteration, less fair wear and tear.

4. Legislation and compliance

NSW Land and Housing Corporation, Aboriginal Housing Office, Department of Communities and Justice and tenants must comply with their rights and obligations under the Residential Tenancies Act 2010.

5. Related documentation

6. Further information

If a tenant disagrees with a decision concerning alterations to their home, they can contact their Client Service Officer to seek a resolution. The next step, if they are still feeling that the decision was unreasonable, is to have the matter heard by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT).

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Last updated: 08 Apr 2021