Renovating while renting

January 30, 2013, 4:08 pm Karina May Yahoo7

Renovating a rented property is definitely possible and worth considering if you’re a long-term tenant and plan on staying put at the property for quite some time.

Paint is peeling off the walls and there are cracks in the bathroom tiles, so you’re busting to make some improvements. But you’re renting so your hands are tied. Or are they?

If there are major problems with the property that you’re renting, like a leaking ceiling, then it’s your landlord’s responsibility to get them fixed. But if it’s just aesthetic improvements you’re after, then you can all but forget about it. Landlords are usually not interested – especially if they can’t see the requested renovations upping the value of their property.

They are typically happy to get away with spending as little as possible, that is unless they detect a huge tax write-off. This may be a massive generalisation, but as one of these “stingy” landlords I think I’m entitled to make such a sweeping statement. My mantra is this: “if something ain’t broke, I don’t want to fix it.”

So how on earth do renters get around penny pinching ogres like me?

Well, you could always move out. But this is a massive expense and hassle in itself.

Or, you may offer to fund the alterations that you’d like. Chances are, that unless you’re proposing something super risqué like lime green carpet, your landlord will be happy to consider any “improvements” – especially if you’re footing the bill.

Getting permission

Standard tenancy agreements typically include a statement that prevents “any renovations, alterations or additions to the premises without the landlord’s written consent.” So you absolutely MUST get permission before commencing any renovation works. There are no “if” or “buts” about that one.

For your best bet of persuading your landlord, you should detail exactly what you’d like to do and the proposed time frame. Whether you’re looking to install new cupboards, benchtops or floors, select neutral colour schemes that are unlikely to offend future tenants or buyers.

A landlord may agree to your renovation requests but ask that you “make good” and return the property to its former state when you move out. From the perspective of a landlord, it’s an understandable request. After all it’s their investment and any change you make might decrease the property’s value, rather than increase it.

Just make sure that you get what ever is agreed on in writing. If there’s any dispute later down the track you’ll want a clear written statement as proof.

Money well spent?

So you have the permission but why spend your money and effort to ultimately improve a property that you don’t own? I guess it’s really the same thinking as a homeowner who is looking to renovate for reasons other than making a profit – to improve the comfort and use of your home.

Updating and remodeling can give a space a refreshed feel – so it’s an investment of a different kind.

Renovating while renting is definitely possible and worth considering if you’re a long-term tenant and plan on staying put at the property for quite some time. For renters constantly on the move however, you may want to weigh up whether your pretty new $800 floral feature wall is money well spent – especially when you’re at your landlord’s mercy and could be given a notice to vacate at any time.

My personal advice? Invest money and make your rental property your home but try and revamp your space with temporary solutions. Buy a chest of drawers to hide the ugly painted wall or a rug to cover the worn patch of carpet. That way, if you move house, you’ll always have the benefit of your investment.

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