Want to Renovate? Make Your Landlord Pay

landlord pays for renovationLandlords are in the commodity business. While there are very few differences between rental units, smart real estate investors (a.k.a.your future landlord) look for properties that give them a clear competitive advantage over a similar property in the same neighborhood. It could be the view, it could be renovations, it could be proximity to public transportation.

As a renter, you can cunningly create a better living environment for yourself while telling your landlord that your plans will increase the value of their rental property. So why shouldn't they pay?

Here are some ways to convince your landlord to pay for the renovation:

  1. Sign a longer lease: If you intend to stay for a longer period of time -- more than one year -- this gives you more negotiating power.

  2. Pay your rent on time: The first step to getting a renovation in your rental is to engendering trust with your landlord. The easiest way to build a relationship is to pay your rent on time and if possible, before the due date.

  3. Make a case: Use data to tell your story. If you are asking for a new refrigerator or a new paint job throughout the apartment or house, educate your landlord on the added benefits of doing the renovation. How much will it add to the future value of the home or apartment?

  4. Extend your lease: In addition to making a case with the landlord, give him/her a reason. What is in it for them? Signing an extension to the existing lease gives the landlord confidence the rental will be filled in the future. This eliminates a lot of the headaches of marketing and filling the rental in the future.
Recently, a tenant asked if I would repaint the entire rental house. The original color was dove white and was approximately five years old. The original request was to use separate colors for each room - red, yellow, brown, blue and black. The resident tried to make a case that the new look would add value to the property for future tenants. I asked them if they would extend the current lease. They said no. I asked them if they could pay their rent early for the remainder of the term which had 6 months left. Previously they were late on payment 2 out of the first 6 months. They said they would try.

At this point, the resident didn't have much negotiating power to get new paint in the house. However, I knew that multiple colors in a rental property does not add value, in fact it decreases the value. (The best way to repaint a rental is to use colors that do not affect emotion - a far cry from my renter's request, I know. It's best to stick to neutral colors like white and beige.)

In the end, we were able to come to an agreement where the resident extended the lease, received a new refrigerator and a new paint job. In beige, of course.
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