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Alterations to a Home Policy

1. Background

Tenants living in a NSW Land and Housing Corporation (LAHC) property managed by the Department of  Communities and Justice (DCJ) must seek DCJ approval before any major alteration to a home can be undertaken. This policy explains how DCJ and LAHC manages alterations to a LAHC owned property.

2. Scope

This policy applies to all properties owned by LAHC and the Aboriginal Housing Office that are managed by DCJ, its delegated agent for residential purposes in accordance with the Residential Tenancies Act 2010. This policy does not apply to properties leased under the Headleasing Program.

3. Policy statement

Tenants can apply to make alterations to their DCJ property. Alteration applications are considered in the context of the following:

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

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, make good any damage caused by the removal of the alteration or to terminate the tenancy.

Tenants must accept the following conditions:

  • Submit a detailed written request of the alteration and copies of any plans or drawings.
  • Obtain and provide copies of all required approvals, including ‘in principle’ approvals, final approvals and those from the NSW Heritage Office 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 tenancy.
  • Remove the alteration at the end of the lease and make good any damage caused by the removal, unless provided with a written authority. Failure to remove the alteration will result in charges under Tenant Repair Costs Policy.
  • If written authority is provided that the alteration can remain in the property, it becomes the property of the landlord (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 on adjoining neighbours
  • not impact the structural integrity or asset standard of the property
  • be consistent with the nature 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 any caveats or covenants.

Extent of work

Minor alterations to a DCJ property are permitted without obtaining written approval. These include the following:

  • 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 that 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:


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 from the property 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

Land and Housing Corporation, Aboriginal Housing Office, DCJ 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 DCJ has made, they should first discuss their concerns with their Client Service Officer. 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: 01 Nov 2019