What are your rights as a tenant when it comes to renovating or decorating your landlord's flat? What are the pros and cons?
Should You Renovate Your Landlord’s Flat?
You have just entered a flat, owned by a landlord, and it is a little dingy, so you think about decorating. Or, you have been living in a rented flat for a long time and now things are getting a little dilapidated. Should you renovate and decorate yourself? Should you spend money on what is somebody else's property?
Making a rental flat your home
If you rent a flat for the long term, you are likely to want to make it feel like home, more than you would so in a short lease property. There is an emotional investment in renovating a rental flat because you can’t take the renovations with you when you leave. There is also the practicality of whether your landlord will allow you to make changes.
Talk to the landlord about your plans
Do not simply go ahead and make changes you want. The changes you are allowed to make may be stipulated in your tenancy agreement, but it is more likely that the terms will spell out what you are not able to do.
Some landlords are very restrictive and do not even like you to put nails in the wall to hang pictures or use Blutack to stick up posters. Even if the tenancy terms are not explicit, do not make any assumptions. It is always best to talk to the landlord.
Not every landlord is going to reject your proposals. Some landlords will give you the go-ahead but may ask you to reverse the renovation when you leave, otherwise, they will withhold the security deposit. For example, if you want to paint some walls, they may ask you to return them to a neutral colour before you leave or take down shelving you have put up. Some landlords may see your ideas as a positive renovation that is an investment in their property and not only give you permission but are also willing to pay something towards the costs.
There are no rules here so it is down to you to negotiate with your landlord. Be clever with your negotiations, Be specific about what you want to do and know exactly what materials you will be using and how the renovation will change the look of the flat. It is also about being smart with the changes you want to make.
Smart renovations to rental flats
So far, minor renovations have been discussed – those that can easily be reversed or cleaned up when you leave. In general, landlords will agree to permanent repairs. A permanent fix is better than a temporary repair which will take further costs for when a temporary repair needs attention again in the future.
But, what about something major?
There are some changes that add to the value of the property that are likely to be accepted by the landlord and for which you may also receive a contribution towards the cost. This includes anything which improves the energy efficiency such as a new boiler, a power shower, double glazing to windows, improved plumbing etc. Also, anything that improves the overall appeal of the flat to future tenets will probably be welcomed by your landlord – such as air conditioning. These are quite a cost commitment to you so you should be sure you want to go ahead if you receive the landlord’s permission. Remember, you can’t take them with you when you leave.
How about renovations that are purely for yourself? This is anything which changes the living space for your wants and needs that do not add any value to the flat. For example, adding extra storage space with shelving, replacing blinds with curtains, changing a shower screen to a curtain. These are not deemed necessary or advantageous and will be less attractive to your landlord so you’ll need to convince them of how they will be in the property’s interests as well as your own.
You might have a landlord who simply refuses any changes or one who is more amenable. You need to be prepared in your negotiations. Your case needs to focus on what the landlord gets out of the renovation rather than your personal interests. If you can provide them with good reasons to renovate the property they are more likely to accept. If you can point out future benefits (increased rental potential), they are more likely to want to contribute to the costs or even pay the entire cost of the renovation.