Making changes and repairs
Learn the steps to follow if you want to make changes to a rental property or request a repair.
Your rights and responsibilities
Your landlord or agent is responsible for keeping the property in a reasonable condition that’s fit for you to live in, including paying for certain repairs.
This doesn’t mean it needs to be in perfect condition. What’s considered reasonable will depend on the age of the property and the amount of rent being charged.
As a tenant, you’re responsible for any damage that's caused deliberately or through lack of care. In most situations, you’ll be responsible for the cost of repairing this sort of damage.
If you want to make any changes to the property, you can do so if:
- your lease allows it, or
- your landlord or agent gives you written permission.
In most situations, your landlord or agent cannot refuse minor changes, including installing:
- fly screens on windows
- a phone line or internet connection
- curtains or blinds
- hooks or nails to hang paintings or picture frames.
Unless the landlord agrees to pay for these changes, you will need to pay for them yourself.
Find out more about making changes to a rental property at NSW Fair Trading.
Can I stop paying rent?
Continue to pay your rent, even if your landlord or agent doesn’t organise the repairs. Getting behind in your rent will breach your lease agreement, and you could be asked to move out.
Any request for repairs will need to be made in writing to your landlord or agent.
Your lease will usually set out the process you need to follow.
Repairs to the property should be paid for by the landlord or agent, unless you've caused the damage to the property.
If a repair is urgent
In most situations, if the repair is urgent and the landlord or agent doesn’t respond, you can:
- check whether your lease includes details of a preferred tradesperson
- get the work done, and
- get repaid for the cost of the work up to $1,000.
Urgent repairs include:
- a serious plumbing or roof leak
- an electrical fault or broken hot water service
- a blocked toilet
- a broken stove top or oven
- broken heating or air conditioning
- serious storm or fire damage
- a gas leak
- other serious or dangerous issues.
If the repair will cost more than $1,000, or you can’t afford to pay for the repair, you can apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal for an urgent hearing order.
If you paid for the repair
You'll need to provide the landlord or agent details of the repair in writing along with receipts.
They will need to pay you back for the cost of the repairs within 14 days. If not, you can contact NSW Fair Trading's tenancy complaints service.
Your landlord or agent may not have to reimburse you for the cost of the urgent repair if:
- you caused the damage
- you didn’t try to contact them about the repair
- you didn’t give them a reasonable amount of time to organise the repair
- the repair was not carried out by a licensed tradesperson.
Learn more about your rights and responsibilities when requesting repairs at NSW Fair Trading.