As a landlord, I believe in treating others how I wish to be treated. At the same time, this is a business and I treat my rentals as such. My goal is be as understanding as possible without altering the integrity of my homes or the ability for me to protect my investment.
Over the years I have found three ways to achieve these goals in the most efficient and professional manner possible. These three ways are just a few ways I’ve found to give tenants permission to make improvement to our house.
3 Ways to Give Permission to Improve Your House
1. I Treat it Like a Business.
Owning rentals is a business. You want to make money both in principle pay down and cash flow. If you aren’t making money, then it’s not worth your time. Who wants to work for free? Not me!
2. I Allow Improvements That Add Value to the Home.
I allow people to upgrade the home as long as they leave the improvement in the house when they leave. Putting up ceiling fans, stripping the wires, installing and installing security systems like ADT, damages my walls and crown moulding. That is why I require all improvements to be approved and left behind with the home.
3. I Remember it’s Not my Home Anymore.
You have to leave your emotions out of the decision. Yes, you might love the wall paint but it’s a rental. I remember the paint color almost making me cry when we first moved, yet I had to learn to let the house go.
As a landlord, my goal is to protect my investment even when the tenants wants to turn my investment into a home. Over the years we have learned to approve improvements as long as they added value. One of the things we have learned the hard way is to make sure we are protected. While I will let tenants improve the house at their expenses and liability, I do not compensate them for doing repairs for me. I learned the hard way and discuss my reasons for that here.
Another thing I have also learned is to make sure I am very complete on what I expect so that I cover myself. The times that I sent a simple, “Yes” to my tenants, were the times it came back to bit me in the tush. While I am nothing other than an experienced landlord, I have found that the below “stock answers” have helped me make sure that everyone is clear on the expectations. I have shared some of my responses in case you were looking for some inspiration.
Authors Note: As always, please remember I am not a lawyer. These are just my thoughts and ideas. These in no way should be construed as legal advice.
Letters of Permission
ADT Alarm Installation:
Please consider this written notice that you have permission to install an ADT alarm system into 124 Missy Lane. The ADT system must be at your complete expense and liability. The installation must be done professionally and the improvement must be left in the home at your departure in working order and contract-free.
Any damage occurring during this installation or later due to this system is at the tenant’s expense and liability. Landlord withholds the right to either immediately repair said damage when identified and charge it at the time (damage first, rent second, as outlined in the lease) or at move-out in the form of a security deposit deduction.”
Please consider this written approval for you to paint the below room the warm chocolate color that was sent in the link with no requirements to re-paint with the following conditions:
- All painting (materials and labor) is done at you, the tenant’s expense and liability. No expense or liability for this project will be incurred by the landlord.
- Paint job must be done either in a professional manner or by a professional. Any damage done or caused due to painting will be repaired at your expense. Landlord reserves the right to immediately rectify at your expense with repairs deducted first, rent second, or at security deposit.
- The color in the below link is the only approved color. Any other color must be approved by the landlord. If the color is not approved the landlord reserves the right to either require you to return it to the original color or paint it back to the original (or in the family) color at you, the tenant’s, expense upon move out.”
Basics of Each Response:
While these are only two examples, the basic things that I cover in every response are:
- “Yes” or “No” regarding my permission.
- What action they have permission to complete (be very specific).
- That they are responsible for the expense of it being done in a professional manner and are liable for any potential damage of the improvement and if any repair is needed because of the repair.
For me, the key has been being as specific as possible and to keep everything in writing. This has prevented misunderstanding and when things have not been done in a professional manner, it has given me the most ammunition and ability to hold my tenant’s feet to the fire.
Do you allow tenant improvements? What are your requirements for improvements?0
There is a need of limited access for the tenants in times of improving your house. Making it much more comfortable for them to stay with is one good thing. That’s why you need to provide and listen on their concern of keeping the house simply unique and beautiful.
Elizabeth Bennett Colegrove says
Thanks for your feedback! I love how we have different perspectives and market requirements!
My tenant added fans to the house, to minimize the electric expenses, but it was a verbal approval.
Can he remove them at the end of the lease? or should be part of the property? this never was discussed.
Alice Carroll says
I like how, as I read this article, it can also be a guide for what tenants like me to expect if we want to spearhead some improvement projects. I especially like how you mentioned that the improvements must stay with the home as that definitely makes sense from a landlord’s perspective and they really have the option to reserve that clause. I will be keeping this in mind once I finally get to decide if I really want to have a ceiling fan in the living room or not.