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Blog category: Renting

How to Ask Your Landlord to Approve Renovations

5 min read

When you’re a renter, there’s only so much you can do to personalize your home without first asking for your landlord’s approval. Every apartment renovation requires authorization, from a new coat of paint to a new stove to putting holes in the wall for a new air conditioning unit. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. The likelihood of success depends on several things, including the type of renovations you desire. If you’ve ever Googled “how to ask landlord for upgrades,” you’re in the right place. Here, we detail how to have your requests granted.

First, Read Your Rental Agreement

Before you decide to ask your landlord for upgrades, review your rental agreement. This is a crucial tip for first-time renters. You want to fully understand both your and the landlord’s responsibilities. For example, your landlord must provide any repairs needed to bring the place up to code. Understanding what you’re asking for will help you to make a more compelling case.

It's a Business Decision

When planning to ask your landlord to make upgrades, keep in mind that you’re asking the landlord to make a business decision. It’s not a favor, and it’s not something the landlord owes you (unless the renovation would fix a safety hazard). To better your chances of getting your apartment renovations approved, look at the suggestion from your landlord’s perspective, which is all about business.

Your landlord will probably review your apartment renovation request by considering whether it’s a good business move. Is it a small expenditure that keeps a good tenant happy? Or is it a worthwhile investment to get higher rents from future tenants?

Keeping these concerns in mind will help you to ask your landlord for upgrades and get a “yes.”

Three Kinds of Renovations

Renter requests for apartment renovations typically fall into one of three categories:

Suppose you’re asking to add a grab bar to the shower. This improves tenant safety and will likely be readily approved. Similarly, a request to replace worn carpeting that has pulled away from the carpet tacks at a threshold repairs a tripping hazard. Again, this kind of apartment renovation is in keeping with the landlord’s responsibility and is likely to be granted.

Upgrades like adding high-speed internet or installing an AC unit will make the apartment easier to rent in the future while commanding higher rents. These apartment upgrades are clearly beneficial to the landlord but still may require more persuasion. One tactic is to agree to a rent increase to reflect the improved amenities.

Some renovations are entirely for the renter’s benefit. For example, say you want to paint the walls green or install a custom chandelier. In these examples, the only reason for the landlord to agree is to please you. To ready the apartment for the next renter, the place will have to be repainted, and the chandelier removed. You may need to pay for these types of apartment renovations yourself and promise to return the place to its original condition before you leave.

How to Ask a Landlord for Upgrades

Now that you better understand your desired apartment renovations from your landlord’s point of view, you can work to make your request compelling.

Be an Exemplary Tenant

Remember, while you’re thinking about your home, it’s your landlord’s business that’s under discussion. Are you a valuable tenant who always pays your rent on time, doesn’t cause problems with other tenants, and isn’t a headache for management? If so, it makes good business sense to keep you happy. You can even strengthen your bargaining position by offering to sign a longer lease in exchange for approval on your requested apartment renovation. But if you’ve been a thorn in your landlord's side, they may prefer to wait until you leave to make the place more attractive to a new tenant.

The bottom line is that being a great tenant pays dividends down the road when you want to renovate your apartment.

Document Everything

Your landlord is responsible for maintaining your house or apartment in a livable condition. If you request improvements to remedy an issue that doesn’t meet that standard, document it well. Photograph or video the problem and add a written explanation of the situation. Make two copies and send one via certified mail to your landlord. The landlord will likely agree with you as long as you avoid being combative or accusatory. Always present yourself as the type of tenant the landlord wants to do business with and keep a record of all communications.

Do the Legwork

Although this is a business decision for your landlord, it’s also a negotiation for you. Do all you can to make it easier for them to say yes. Research how much the apartment renovation would cost, where to get supplies and fixtures, and the best way to implement them. Depending on the scope of the upgrade, and if your landlord doesn’t have a go-to contractor, offer to find one and get some estimates. When you handle the time-consuming legwork, all you’re asking for is the landlord’s permission and their agreement to finance the project.

Get Skin in the Game

If you’re handy, you might offer to do the apartment renovations yourself. Or you can purchase the new fixture and have the maintenance staff or landlord install it. When you demonstrate you’re willing to put your own effort and money into making it happen, it’s much easier to get a landlord to agree.

If you want to ask your landlord for an upgrade like high-speed internet, research the rents on comparable apartments with high-speed internet included. Use that information when you make your pitch. Offering to pay increased rent can help to move a no to a yes.

As you work to turn your apartment into a home, don’t forget to ensure your renter’s insurance covers your needs. Give us a call at 800-640-2920. One of our helpful agents can help you buy a policy or review your coverage with you to be sure you’re well protected.

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