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    3 Ways to Convince Your Landlord to Let You Upgrade


    Rentals are a business, and the point of a business is to make money. Landlords work in dollar signs, and motivation for decorating tends to be low on a priority list of upkeep--unfortunately for those of us interested in the aesthetics of things.

    Procuring home décor upgrades paid for by your landlord is no easy feat, so facts and figures might help convince them of the worth of DIY projects you long to install. In the end, there will likely be a compromise on who pays for what, or a flat-out “no” will be the answer. So…

    Beware of the costs involved and keep reminding yourself, this isn’t your house. Calculating your threshold of putting your own cash into someone else’s property is a tricky equation. Military families have a hard time with this because we know the importance of making a house feel like home with each move. But depending on the circumstances, living with something ugly for 18 months is much easier than three years. Is it worth painting the bedroom walls on your own dime? For some people, yes, and for others not so much.

    Use these three tips to help persuade the owner to make the place better for you both.

    1) Show them pictures.

    These are easy to come by and very persuasive. It’s also proof you have what it takes to make good choices. If DIY is your thing, show them photos of previous projects, such as a paint job or homemade window coverings. If you don’t have pictures of rentals past, offer pictures of ideas you would like to try. For instance, a small brick paver patio in the back generally only helps a property look better and really can be done easily without much trouble.

    On the flip side, if you just cannot tolerate the condition of part of the house, snap a photo of the offense and firmly say, “I can’t live with this” and offer to handle the project yourself. This happened to us with a hands-off, long-distance landlord.

    I could not tolerate for one moment longer the dated, peeling, and food-splattered wallpaper that surrounded the kitchen table. It was disgusting, and I kept imagining all of the previous families flinging food to and fro. Its removal was worth every moment of work and the $25.00 out of my pocket needed for white paint. The owner never said a thing, because it only helped her out. Frankly, any person with sight could see it had to be done.

    2) Present research and preparation plans.

    Gather blog posts and articles about resale value, the benefits of upgrades, and the importance of curb appeal. Showing the dollars and cents of the project will make it hard to turn it down, especially with free labor and supplies. A simple paint job on the front door can make a huge difference and offering paint chips for your chosen color will lessen hesitation. Also, remind them if enough gets upgraded, it might be grounds for increasing the rent for the next tenants.

    3) Convince with experience.

    Time to drag out any professional or non-professional related home upgrade experience. Brag about your time as an interior designer’s assistant, the summers you spent building decks for your dad’s business, the classes you took to become a home stager, or anything else home related. A lifetime of acquired handyman skills is also priceless to homeowners. Even proving you simply have an eye for design can be documented by previous landlords.

    Here’s something to remember: if the upgrade process goes smoothly and the owner is happy, they might be willing to pay you for future projects they know should be done. If home projects make you happy, then getting paid for your kind of fun is a win-win for everyone involved. There’s a thought--getting paid to improve your house while renting!

    It should go without saying, but it is necessary to get major improvements in writing either in your lease or through amendments later.

    MilitarybyOwner offers many blogs and articles on how to personalize rental properties. Take a look at the Decorating Resources page for more information.

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    Dawn M. Smith


    Dawn M. Smith

    Dawn is a real estate and military life writer who has a serious HGTV habit. When she is not writing, her teen daughter, Army husband, and golden retriever keep her busy through chauffeur duties, travel planning, and long dog walks. Dawn is pleased to share her experiences with MilitaryByOwner readers who are hoping to simplify military family journeys of all kinds. Follow Dawn on Pinterest for more ideas and resources and visit her site at Dawn M. Smith Custom Content Creation.

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