We have heard some interesting requests when it comes to a tenant wanting to make alterations to the property they rent. Tenants sometimes think that because they are paying the rent, they have the right to make improvements, and more often than not, these improvements turn out to be anything but.
Over the years we have seen a number of poor attempts at carpentry work and numerous terrible paint jobs.
We recall one incident, where a routine inspection was conducted on a property. We were shocked to find the unit had been painted high gloss electric blue!
Not only were the walls and doors painted in this disastrous colour, but it was splashed all over the venetians, timber skirting boards and door frames. When asked who gave him permission to paint, the tenant said “Oh, the guy who mows the lawns – he said he was the owner and just told me to go ahead and do whatever, so I did.”
Upon questioning the owner, he informed us that he had in fact given the tenant permission to paint. He said the tenant told him he would do a really good job and save him some money. Well that turned out to be one very expensive learning curve for the owner! Lesson here – don’t give permission for anything to be done, speak to us first.
The legislation clearly states that tenants must first seek approval from the owner if they want to make a minor change to the premises such as installing child safety locks on windows or installing pay TV. The request should be put in writing, so it is recorded, and it should provide as much information as possible about what is being proposed, who would carry out the work and what their qualifications are.
Owners need to be reasonable in response to such requests. The law gives some guidance as to the types of situations where it would be reasonable to say no. These include work which:
- involves structural changes (e.g. knocking out a wall)
- is not reasonably capable of being rectified, repaired or removed
- is not consistent with the nature of the property (e.g. installing modern fixtures on a heritage property)
- is prohibited under a law (such as a strata by-law)
- involves painting
This is not an exhaustive list. There may be other reasonable reasons to decline the tenant’s request. If a tenant thinks you are being unreasonable they can apply to the Tribunal for permission to make changes. It is up to the owner to decide whether the premises can be painted (inside or out) and the Tribunal cannot give permission if the landlord refuses.
Remember, before any changes are made, agreement should be in writing and should state who will pay the costs, who will do the work, what are their qualifications and what will happen to any added fixture at the end of the tenancy.