Things tenants do

Not under our watch.

Some landlords are happy to let their tenants wave a paint brush – just as long as they ask first.

And then there are renters like UK artist Ron Gittins, who spent 30 years turning his rented ground-floor flat in Birkenhead, near Liverpool, into a work of art, until his death in 2019.

Check out his handiwork.

Fireplaces in the shape of a lion and a minotaur, a Roman altar in the kitchen, walls with floor to ceiling Egyptian, Greek and marine themed murals, and so on.

A visitor to “Ron’s place” shortly after his death made it her mission to save the flat.

Fans of Ron’s work rallied to buy the home, founding the Save Ron’s Place group in 2022, when the flat was put on the market.

Outsider art expert Martin Wallace placed the winning bid of £335,000 (NZ$701,771). Examples of outsider art in New Zealand include the Giant’s House, in Akaroa, and Fred and Mrytle’s Paua Shell House, a replica of which is in the Christchurch Museum.

Now, Ron’s former abode has a Grade II listing issued by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

Grade II listed buildings are legally protected from being demolished, extended or significantly altered without special permission from the local planning authority.

Buildings in New Zealand identified as having particular historic, cultural, architectural or other significant value, may be included on a Heritage List. There are rules around how heritage sites can be developed and subdivided.

Rules for modifying a rental property in New Zealand

The law requires tenants to tread carefully before putting any big ideas into action.

First, they’ve got to check their tenancy agreement and the Tenancies Act to ensure proposed changes are compliant, and satisfy any related tenancy agreement clauses.

If things are still looking hopeful, tenants must send a written request to the landlord or property manager, outlining their intentions. There’s a form for that.

The landlord has 21 days to respond with their answer. Landlords cannot deny a request for minor changes, though they can stipulate reasonable conditions.

With the landlord’s blessing, a tenant can proceed with their alterations. They must follow agreed terms and pay costs, though if the landlord wants the alteration to be left in place after the existing tenancy has finished, they must compensate the tenant for any expenses.

Conversely, if the landlord wants the property retuned to its original state at the end of the tenancy, the tenant must comply.

Frequent rental inspections are the best way to avoid nasty surprises, artistic or otherwise. Get Goodwins on the job. Call 0800 GOODWINS.