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Improvements: Should You Allow Your Tenants to Do them?

There are all sorts of reason why your tenants might ask to make improvements or changes. Likewise, you could get requests for simple changes or really intricate renovations that will require a lot of money. Maybe they want something relatively simple like giving some color to their kid’s walls, or perhaps they want to renovate their kitchen to make it more modern. Though it would be great to have a universal answer, the truth is you have to take requests on a case by case basis before allowing or denying them.

Mainly, every decision comes down to one simple thing: will the change be an improvement or a detriment to your property? Everything you do for your house should add value to its price, and though it’s your job to keep it in top-notch shape, if your tenants want to help, welcome it. Some changes, like updating your 1960’s bathroom or remodelling an old kitchen, will add value to the property for years to come. But then, the issue becomes, who will pay for it?

Landlords have basically three options, they can pay for the remodelling, go half and half with the tenants, or make the tenants cover the whole cost. That’s usually decided depending on how much value the change can really bring to the property. As stated before, if it’s something that will make the property more attractive to future tenants, landlords should cover all of it or half at the very least. If instead, is a change that will make your current tenant’s life easier but won’t really add any permanent value to the property, tenants should absorb the entire cost.

What if it Makes Things Worse?

Of course, the case might be that the remodelling the tenants want to make actually diminishes the value of the property and you will need to get rid of it once the current tenants move out. If that’s the case landlords are free to say no, but there are other friendlier options as well.

You can agree to accept the changes so long as they pay to have changed back before they move. You can also agree and take the money you need out of the deposit to have it changed back. After all, if it’s a change that will make your tenants happy and won’t cost a fortune to fix, there’s no harm in allowing it.

What if They do it Without Permission?

Depending on the contract you had in place and the law where you live, you might be able to evict them just for changing your property without your permission. But that’s a really drastic solution so you might want to keep it on your back pocket and try a more diplomatic approach first.

Upon discovering what they’ve done, you should contact them and let them know the changes are in breach of contract. If it’s something small and inoffensive, you can let them know you’ll be taking it out of their deposit once they leave but there’s no need to change it back for the time being. If it’s something bigger and problematic, you can ask them to change back as soon as possible. After this, you should be hearing back from your tenants to make sure you are all on the same page, if that doesn’t happen you might want to pay them a visit before things escalate.

Whatever you do, take the time to listen to your tenant’s request before saying no. Be objective about the estate of your property. Some changes really do end up being improvements that will increase the value in the long run and make your current and future tenants happier.