For our new “Ask a Landlord” series we’ll be asking real property owners for their advice about your burning questions. This time we asked Cynthia Hale, creator of the blog ‘Mother of All Landlords’, for her thoughts on going rogue and taking apartment updates into your own hands.
“I hate the linoleum in the kitchen of my rental apartment. It’s peeling, yellowed and SO OLD. I’ve been wanting to do a DIY update- what’s the best way to ask my landlord? Will I forfeit my deposit?”
“You should never alter the property you rent without your landlord’s permission. Whether it would affect your deposit depends on the language in your rental agreement. Tenants sometimes don’t ask because they are afraid that the landlord might raise the rent. And if the landlord puts out money to upgrade your unit, the landlord would be entitled to a return on his or her investment.
But here are a few ideas:
1. Find an idea, and get samples and prices for your landlord. Present it as a “solution” not a “problem.” Part of the presentation would be who will pay for it, who will do the work, etc. Or you could negotiate costs with the landlord.
2. Old linoleum is sometimes difficult to remove and you might end up with a mess that you didn’t anticipate. Also, removal of the linoleum could disclose a bad sub-floor that would need extra preparation and expense before the new flooring can go down. Laying linoleum requires a skilled workman.
3. Pergo or other laminate products are beautiful and they have a spongy sub-layer that disappears imperfections. It’s faster to install, but the product is more expensive. Laminate flooring requires a skilled workman.
4. If your landlord is tacky enough to rent a unit with old and peeling lino, he or she might be tacky enough to let you put down some stick-on tiles. But you may still have a problem making the lino flat enough to get the tiles to stick.
5. You could buy a cool kitchen rug or mat from stores like Target or Ikea and just disappear the ugly. This way you own it and take it with you when you leave, and you don’t have to ask permission.
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