Organic–inorganic metal halide perovskites have gained considerable attention for next-generation photovoltaic cells due to rapid improvement in power conversion efficiencies. However, fundamental understanding of underlying mechanisms related to light- and bias-induced effects at the nanoscale is still required. Here, structural variations of the perovskites induced by light and bias are systematically investigated using scanning probe microscopy techniques. We show that periodically striped ferroelastic domains, spacing between 40 to 350 nm, exist within grains and can be modulated significantly under illumination as well as by electric bias. Williamson-Hall analysis of X-ray diffraction results shows that strain disorder is induced by these applied external stimuli. We show evidence that the structural emergence of domains can provide transfer pathways for holes to a hole transport layer with positive bias. Our findings point to potential origins of I–V hysteresis in halide perovskite solar cells.