A rental property will often require repairs during a tenancy. In most cases the landlord will take care of the repairs, either performing such repairs himself or by hiring a professional. While the tenant has limited rights to repair or alter the property on their own, prior approval is always required before undertaking any repairs or altering the rental property in any way.


The general rule for all rental units is that except as provided by law, the tenant must not make any repairs or alterations to the premises without the prior written consent of the landlord and the homeowners association, if there is one. Repairs and alterations include but are not limited to painting, wallpapering, demolition, carpentry, installation of fixtures, or any other changes to the premises. If a landlord does provide consent to repairs or alterations taken on by the tenant, those repairs or alterations must conform to a professional standard of quality. It’s also important for tenants to understand that any repairs or alterations they perform (or cause to be performed) will become the property of the landlord, and the tenant shall not be entitled to any compensation for the repairs or alterations.

Keys, Locks, And Security Systems

Regarding keys and locks, the tenant can not alter or install any locks to the premises without the prior written approval of the landlord. The same is true for a security system. If the tenant does receive permission to install new locks or a security system a copy of the keys and instructions for disarming a security system must be provided to the landlord.

Alternative Energy Devices

Alternative energy devices are becoming more popular as technology improves and the devices become more affordable to own and operate. Oregon law contains a provision for category one and category two alternative energy devices installed on the premises by the tenant with the landlord’s written permission. Unless there is a written agreement to the contrary, the landlord does not have a legal interest in any alternative energy device installed by the tenant.

Furthermore, when granting written permission for a legal interest in an installed alternative energy device, the landlord may require the tenant to do one or more of the following:

  • provide a waiver of the landlord’s liability for any injury to tenant or other installer resulting from tenant’s or installer’s negligence in the installation of the alternative energy device;
  • secure a waiver of the right to a lien against the property of landlord from each contractor, subcontractor, laborer and material supplier who would obtain the right to a lien when tenant installs or causes the installation of the alternative energy device; or
  • post a bond or pay a deposit in an amount not to exceed the cost of restoring the premises to its condition at the time of installation of the alternative energy device.

Category One and Category Two Devices

O.R.S. § 469B.100 lists all of the devices that are considered Category One energy devices. Such devices include systems that use solar radiation for heating or cooling a dwelling, a water supply, or a swimming pool, spa, or hot tub; generators powered by alternative fuels to produce electricity; energy efficient appliances; equipment used in the production of alternative fuels; an alternative fuel device, and; any wind powered device used to offset or supplement the use of electricity by performing a specific task such as pumping water. Category Two devices refer to a fuel cell system, solar electric system or wind electric system.