Upgrade or Ugly? What Landlords Should Allow Renters to Change in the Property, and When to Say No
As a landlord, you have two major concerns: keeping your rental property occupied, and keeping it in good shape so it appeals to tenants. Tradewind Properties takes care of the first concern for you, so let’s focus on the second.
Each tenant will have ways to make your rental property feel like home to them, as they should. But as the landlord, what changes should you allow and when should you say no?
To put it simply, think about which changes will be either reversible when current renters move out, or a clear upgrade that will improve the value of the property.
For example, changes that will make tenants happy, but are reversible, could include:
- Changing the blinds.
- Swapping out light-switch covers.
- Painting the walls. This one can be a triumph or a disaster. It is best to either approve any colors the tenants are suggesting, or arrange a fee for the walls to be painted back to original upon them moving out.
- Replacing shower heads, specialty light bulbs, or other easy swaps.
- Light fixtures, although it is recommended that a licensed electrician be hired for this job.
- Custom built-ins for the closets.
- Any baby-proofing.
Generally-speaking, most major upgrades should come out of your wallet, as the owner of the property. But small changes to the rental can be the tenants’ choosing (and on their dime), and will help give them a say in how their living space feels. Assuming they gain your permission and that the upgrades improve the value of the property, consider giving a thumbs up to these:
- Replacing drawer pulls and other hardware.
- Deep cleaning the carpets, power spraying the deck, or other major cleaning endeavors.
- Painting walls or cabinets (see above).
- Installing shelving in the garage, mud room, laundry room, etc.
- Upgrading the kitchen sink to include a retractable kitchen faucet, an in-sink soap dispenser, or adding a garbage disposal.
- Bringing in their own appliances that they will leave behind (assuming they’re a step above what you currently have).
- Bathroom upgrades like towel rods, towel hooks, or a medicine cabinet.
- Installing ceiling fans (again, with the help of a professional).
- Planting herbs, bulbs or flowers in garden.
When to Say No
Sometimes what seems like a fabulous idea to some is either too permanent, too hazardous, or too ugly to allow in your rental property.
- Cut-outs for an A/C unit.
- Fire pits or other fire hazards.
- Basketball hoops installed on the exterior. Chances are good the next tenants might not be as keen on a game of hoops.
- Anything that diminishes the functionality or character of a place, such as painting over original brick, closing off a fireplace, or adding an awning which only keeps light from getting in the windows, etc.
- Changing the locks or security system. Unless you mutually agree to change the locks, and the landlord takes the lead, this is obviously a big no-no.
Please note that safety issues, repairs and major upgrades are part of a landlord’s responsibilities. The staff at Tradewind Properties can help you manage all of these, including emergency handyman visits for repairs.
Keep an open line of communication with your tenants, and be open to suggestions for how they can make your property feel like home. It’s beneficial to both parties if tenants and landlord are satisfied and in agreement.
If you have any questions about becoming a landlord, or renting out your property, Contact Tradewind Properties. We are here to help!