Should I do Improvements to my Rental Property?

  • By interactive
  • 09 Aug, 2017

The Pros and Cons of Upgrading Your Rental Apartment

apartments for rent in Quincy, IL - Rental property improvements

It's a common problem: you're looking for apartments for rent in Quincy, IL. There is a specific area you like and price you can afford.  You find one you think might work, if only a few features were upgraded. The walls are painted an awful builder's grade white, the appliances are old, and the carpets are stained. A tiny voice reminds you that this is a rental and not truly yours to improve. Still, you wonder…

Will my landlord allow me to upgrade the place?

The first step is to ask. Never take on a home improvement project in a property you don't own without asking your landlord how they feel about it. Say you want to install a new refrigerator because the one that came with the unit looks like it was purchased during the Reagan administration. Write your landlord a letter asking two things:

  1. If they will allow you to purchase and install the appliance, and
  2. If they will credit your rent until you are repaid for the appliance

For example, if the refrigerator you want costs $1,200, ask if they would consider discounting your rent by $100 for 12 months. Sweeten the deal by offering to have the old refrigerator delivered to the place of their choosing. Chances are, they will either donate it to charity or use it in another unit. Make sure to have everything in writing and signed by both parties before you proceed.

What are the pros?

If your landlord happens to be the understanding sort, there are many improvements that will make your rental feel more like home. Painting the walls in a warm, neutral shade, having the carpet cleaned (or removed if there is hardwood beneath them that can be refinished), and installing storage solutions in the kitchen and bath will allow you to create a space that fits your aesthetics and your needs.

By thinking like a landlord you can come up with a list of improvements that are likely to get the green light. Refinished floors, professionally painted neutral walls, new appliances, new lighting, and updated hardware on the cabinets all benefit the landlord in the long term. Sure, you will enjoy those upgrades while you live there, but your landlord will appreciate the value added to their property. In other words, they may be able to ask a higher rent for the place once you move out due to the changes you have made.

What are the cons?

Not every landlord is willing to work with a tenant once a lease contract has been signed. Unless you negotiate the upgrades prior to signing your lease (or lease renewal), you may be out of luck. Another drawback is that you're probably going to have to allow the landlord to approve your choices, including the appliances you choose, paint colors, flooring finishes, and even cabinet hardware. Finally, all the work that you put into your rental will be left behind when you move on. It's important to decide how much sweat equity you are willing to put into someone else's property.

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