Am I allowed to make any improvements to my home?
Yes – provided you get written approval from the department first and the improvement does not in any way affect the structural integrity or safety of the property.
What do I need to know about my rental property before I consider making improvements?
You need to make sure you are aware of any hazards in your home before making improvements. Asbestos was used in building products from the 1940s to the late 1980s. Asbestos fibres were combined with a bonding compound to make building materials such as cement sheeting products. Most Australian homes built during this period contain asbestos products in one form or another. When asbestos is bonded or painted/sealed and its fibres are not airborne, it is not a risk to health.
Bonded or painted/sealed asbestos may be present in homes as part of the building materials particularly in wall, ceiling and roof sheeting.
If asbestos products are disturbed or broken and the microscopic fibres become airborne, they can become a health risk if breathed into the lungs. Asbestos also presents environmental risks, as unsafe removal can contaminate the ground around your home.
Does asbestos in the home mean I cannot make any improvements?
Asbestos products are only hazardous when they are damaged and the microscopic fibres become airborne. Asbestos products should only be disturbed/removed by appropriately qualified tradespeople. If you wish to make improvements to your home and you believe it may contain asbestos products, contact your nearest Housing Service Centre for advice. A fact sheet fact sheet is also available.
Who do I contact if I want to make an improvement?
You need to make your request in writing to your nearest Housing Service Centre. You need to provide all details about what improvements you intend to do, to ensure the proposal is fully understood. The department will advise you whether you can make the proposed improvement.
What improvements can I make to my home?
You can apply for approval for any of the following:
- storage sheds;
- garages and carports (except in multi-unit complexes);
- pergolas and shade houses;
- security systems;
- building alterations and modifications; and
- above-ground swimming pools. The following rules apply
You can apply in writing to install an above-ground swimming pool, however, you must also commit to installing and maintaining the appropriate fencing as required by law. All filtration systems required for the hygienic operation of the pool must be installed. You are also responsible for obtaining any permits or approvals required by your local government authority. If the pool or fencing is found to be non-compliant with legal or safety requirements at any point during your tenancy, you will be required to rectify the problem or remove the pool.
Note: Inflatable pools that can be filled to a depth of 30 cm and are not emptied between uses, are treated the same as normal above-ground pools.
Do I need plans and local council approval?
It will depend on what improvements you want to make. You are responsible for ensuring compliance with local council rules, for example, when erecting storage sheds, pergolas, carports or above-ground swimming pools. You will need to supply the department with copies of the council approved plans (if applicable) and all council approvals for each stage of the work you do.
Can I install a security system?
Please remember to contact your nearest Housing Service Centre before commencing any work on your home that impacts on the property itself, including installing security systems. The department does not have any agreements in place with providers of security systems. Tenants must apply to the department to install these in their homes.
Can I install cable television in my home?
Yes – however, you need to tell your cable television service provider that your home is a departmental property. The department has an agreement and guidelines in place for your service provider to follow when installing cable television.
Remember: The installation, repair and removal costs of cable television are your responsibility. Should the department have to pay for the removal of these items when you leave the home, these costs will be charged as a maintenance debt to your rental account.
Can I paint the inside or outside of my home?
You must seek approval from the department before you begin. There may be health risks associated with painting your home.
Some departmental properties may contain lead paint or lead paint residue. More information is available on the fact sheet, 'Lead-based paint' .
Please check the information in the fact sheet, 'Lead-based paint' before you apply for approval to paint.
If you receive approval to paint your home, the department will advise you on suitable paints and acceptable colours. Remember: painting not considered by the department to be of a professional standard or acceptable colour will be repainted when you vacate and the cost will be charged as a maintenance debt to your rental account.
Note: The department will not supply paint under any circumstances.
Do I have to remove the improvement if I leave the property?
If you leave the property and decide to remove the improvement, you must ensure the property is reinstated to its original condition. If you decide to leave the improvement at the property, the department will advise you at the exit inspection if it must be removed when you vacate. Should you leave the improvements and not attend the exit inspection, the department will determine if the improvement needs to be removed after you have vacated. The department will not reimburse you for costs expended on improvements.