How to Renovate Your Rental Apartment

How to Renovate Your Rental Apartment


If you are a tenant and are planning to stay in your apartment or other rental property for several years, you may desire to renovate your home to suit your needs. Your landlord may be willing to undertake the renovations on your behalf or you could handle the project yourself. Assuming the latter option, there are several things to keep in mind before making changes to any place you rent.

Check your lease — Familiarize yourself with your lease agreement to see how renovations are handled. Some agreements are restrictive, forbidding the tenant from making any changes without landlord approval. Know what the rules are and be prepared to respond accordingly.

Make a plan — Write out an outline of your home renovation project, offering details of what work you want to do. Even if your lease agreement doesn’t allow for renovations, your landlord may make an exception particularly if the work doesn’t involve structural changes. Removing walls, replacing counters and swapping out doors may not be allowed. Removing old carpeting and sanding the floors, replacing a counter top or changing out light fixtures may fine. Get written approval from your landlord before starting your project.

Know your rights — When it comes to renovating rental units, the tenant most likely will not be able to take his changes with him when he moves. This means that whatever you’ve invested in your apartment becomes the property of the landlord. Unless you expect to stay in place for many years, your investment may quickly pass on to the landlord.

Ask for a rent abatement — Any work that you do on your apartment is a “home improvement” or a win-win proposition for tenant and landlord alike. This means you should approach the project as something beneficial to the landlord and seek a rent abatement to cover your costs. The landlord, realizing that he may have a better unit because of your detailed work, may pick up the cost of supplies. You provide the sweat equity and he foots the bill for the new fixtures you want. You may be able to negotiate a new lease with a significant rent reduction too.

If your landlord is not agreeable to your changes, then tell him that you plan to move on to a new place as soon as your lease expires. If your place needs a makeover and he values your tenancy, he may relent. Therefore, your initial appeal must be detailed and offer a clear explanation to your landlord what the benefits will be to him personally.


The New York Times; Renovating a Rental as if it Were Their Own; Tim McKeough; December 9, 2009

Bob Vila; How to Renovate Your Rental; Cynthia Ramnarace



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Categories: Home Renovation

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Auto Trends Magazine", an online publication. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and weblogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".