There are many benefits for renting a home or apartment instead of purchasing one, especially for people who are likely to be moving frequently for an indefinite period of time. However, there may arise occasions when tenants may want to make changes to their homes, from minor improvements to fairly drastic changes. Often, tenants may see this as a given right, especially if they feel like their improvements will add to the overall value of the apartment. However, in order to avoid getting hit with penalties or even a lawsuit, it is important to understand exactly what your lease allows in terms of making improvements.
The first thing to do before taking any steps to make changes to an apartment is to consult with your lease. Most leases will lay out guidelines as far as what types of changes are allowed and what changes are not. Sometimes even the tiniest modifications to the apartment can be forbidden by the lease. For example, some leases do not allow tenants to put nails in the wall to hang pictures or to install shelving or curtain rods. These may initially seem like very minor changes, but going through with them when a lease forbids doing so could result in major fees or penalties.
If your lease explicitly forbids a type of improvement you want to make, don’t automatically assume it has to end there. Consult with your landlord and see if he would be willing to grant permission. Really, it is a good idea to get express permission from your landlord no matter what type of improvement you are making, unless your lease expressly grants permission to make the change. However, if you find that your lease doesn’t allow for a type of improvement, it could very well be worth your time to speak about the matter with your landlord. He may include a clause in order to insure that unexpected changes to his apartments aren’t made, but if you can set forth a good case for the specific change you want to make, he may be willing to go along with it.
When speaking with your landlord about types of improvements you want to make, be sure to write down whatever your final agreement is. Sometimes landlords will agree to cover some or all of the expenses you incur while making improvements. If you’re wanting to install something that can be removed (such as a shelving unit), make sure you and your landlord are in agreement about whether the shelving unit stays with the apartment or goes with you. If your landlord agrees to let you paint a room, be sure it is in writing whether or not he requires you to repaint it back to its original color upon leaving the apartment. By clearly outlining the stipulations of making improvements to the property, you are protecting yourself from getting hit with future penalty costs or losing some or part of your security deposit after investing in the improvements themselves.