You find the perfect rental home, but you’d like to spruce it up and make it yours. Well, in most rental contracts it specifies what you can and can’t do to the home. Here are a few things to fix up your rental in ways the landlord would appreciate.
The first step is to have an open dialogue with your landlord- Either meet with them to discuss your plan, or bring it up before signing the lease. Always keep in mind the even minor work can result in major consequences if you don’t get permission first- Landlords are responsible for making sure any work done on their property adheres to real estate regulations, zoning ordinances, building codes, or other rules governing construction and habitability.
Landlords don’t take kindly to “random acts of improvement.” If you do not get your landlords permission, you most likely will not be reimbursed. You could be forced to restore the property to its “pre-improvement” condition, at your expense. You could also lose all of your security deposit to correct or remove the work. Even worse, you could be evicted, if it is bad enough, even sued. This isn’t worth any of the trouble so make sure that you ask. Also be very detailed about what exactly you are improving on.
If you are granted permission, just keep in mind that removable improvements are a lot safer route to go than fixtures. Removable improvements consist of anything ranging from dish washers, plug-ins, refrigerators etc. Anything that sources to a water or electrical power outlet of some type. It is common for renters to replace fixtures when updating the home. If you do end up doing this, keep EVERYTHING! Put every fixture, knob, etc. in the closet and replace everything back into its original order when you move out. And keep in mind that every nail, screw, drop of cement or anything attached to the property that is permanent, the item legally becomes a “fixture” that belongs to the property owner.
In most apartments, landlords tend to have the walls stay a neutral color. If your landlord grants you permission to paint the walls a color he/she agreed on, know that most of the time you will be responsible for changing them back to their original colors. Granted, there are times that the landlord feels a certain color can add value to the property and will allow you to leave it.
It never hurts to negotiate- not argue. Try to negotiate with the property owner for permanent home improvements that will remain after your lease expires. The landlord may even agree to pay for some or all of the work, or reduce the rent to cover your cost. Never rely on an oral agreement, always make sure that you get it in writing. A detailed contract itemizing the work to be performed and signed by the tenant and the landlord helps prevent any misunderstandings. Without an agreement, a landlord is not automatically responsible for reimbursing a tenant for tenant-initiated improvements.
Just remember to always ask, even if it is as simple as changing the knobs. Keep all of the old fixtures and make sure that permanent improvements are signed, dated and detailed in writing. Even though you are just trying to help, remember if you don’t do this properly that it could get you and potentially the landlord and property owner into a lot of trouble!