Hey, It Doesn't Hurt to Ask! Real-Life Rental Renovations That Landlords Actually Helped Pay For

Hey, It Doesn't Hurt to Ask! Real-Life Rental Renovations That Landlords Actually Helped Pay For

Dabney Frake
Apr 25, 2016

A lot of renters think kitchen renovations are completely out of reach. As a temporary resident, you are just passing through, doing time in a space you hate while living with ugly features that don't work on any level. But here's the thing: talk to your landlord. Some are happy for you to jump in, do the work, and make improvements to their property — it adds value without them having to lift a finger. And you get to make changes — often of your own choosing — that can leave you loving where you live.

Above, Hannah of Seeds & Stitches pulled off this amazing transformation —which involved painting cabinets, a basic backsplash and new open shelving — for £339.

Says Hannah: The landlords actually paid for the worktops and some of the paint, so the cost to us was far less than that. We did the work ourselves, using Youtube videos to teach us if we didn't already know what to do (installing the taps and cutting out the sink hole in the worktop) and pulled in favours from family with the tiling.

(Image credit: Boston Globe)

Boston's tight rental market made Catherine Smart get creative. She found an ugly apartment in her price range and renovated it like she owned it. To her, it was worth the effort.

Says Catherine: We decided that our kitchen situation would involve sweat equity and a little cash to make it feel like our own. First things first: I checked with our landlord and convinced her to reduce the rent for the first six months to cover expenses. Make unapproved changes and you may forfeit your security deposit. Some landlords may be willing to pay for supplies.

(Image credit: Maxwell Ryan)

Apartment Therapy's CEO Maxwell negotiated with his new landlord before fixing up one of his former apartments, and wound up adding some built-in storage to the bedrooms, and revamping the kitchen. You can see all that he did in Maxwell & Ursula's Light Rental Renovation Project.

Says Maxwell: The landlord gave me one month of free rent to put money and time into fixing it up, which is allowing me to see how much I can do and flex my design muscles.

(Image credit: New York Times)

Marlene and Todd Capron completely renovated their Brooklyn apartment in 2009 after striking a deal with the building's owner before they moved in. For doing $20,000 worth of work themselves, they got a four-year lease with a $400 monthly discount. They wound up spending twice that amount.

Says Marlene: We were living here for over a year before she even came to see what we had done. At this point, there’s not a square inch that we haven’t touched.

(Image credit: Meghan)

Meghan entered her rental kitchen in our "Big Reveal" Room Makeover contest last year after it got a facelift for a couple hundred dollars. She also lucked out with a new stove, courtesy of the landlord.

Says Meghan: ...we negotiated with our landlord to have the gas stove replaced, as two of the burners did not work. There was a mistake in our lease, and we leveraged it to have the entire unit replaced. It never hurts to ask!

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