Tenant’s improvements concerns?

Tenant’s improvements concerns?

10:39 AM, 27th July 2021, About 2 years ago 14

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I have been letting residential properties for 14 years, but have encountered something for the first time. I have granted an AST to a single retired gentleman, and he has taken possession. He has always been an owner-occupier so he has been able to do as he likes in houses he has owned.

He wants to carry out some improvements – at his own expense – but I am a bit wary.

He has asked if he can replace all the carpets with laminate flooring, and he is keen to have a patio in the garden. We have to keep reminding him that it is a rented property. The existing carpets are not new, but they are in good condition and every few years I replace them room by room between tenancies if it is required.

On the face of it, a tenant willing to carry out improvements looks good, but I have concerns about the quality of workmanship and what happens at the end of the tenancy. The property is a bungalow and this will be my third retired tenant. Generally, their generation are ideal tenants.

He has indicated he wants to stay long term. However, I have not encountered a scenario of a tenant wanting to do improvements before, and I would welcome the views of readers, please.


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Paul Shears

22:11 PM, 27th July 2021, About 2 years ago

Just a few thoughts:
1. This guy is clearly a home maker who intends to stay.
2. The only question is does he have the skills?
3. I find this well worthy of further investigation.
4. This chap sounds like a responsible adult.
5. I think that you should sound him out and perhaps point out that if he leaves, any changes may have to be reversed at your discretion. Perhaps explain that as long as whatever he does will, in your judgement, appeal to the general rental market, then you will support his wishes. Obviously there is a risk of alienating what could be an excellent tenant here. I've had several tenants who wanted to plant stuff in the garden. I always agreed to this. Sometimes it was awful but it took me only hours to rectify the situation. Sometimes it turned into the best garden on the road. When it comes to hanging pictures, I always insist that I do this for them myself. Now this chap may, or may not, know about finding studs etc if that is relevant, but I bet he could learn in five minutes if you taught him. In all likelihood a pensioner ex home owner will know as much as they are ever likely to need to know.
Hardwood flooring sounds like an attractive deal to me and just how bad can it be?
A pensioner is not going to be doing things in a rush.
If it were me, I might offer to provide the assistance of a known tradesman or myself in order to mitigate the risk. This could be a win-win situation.
This pensioner may well find D.I.Y. therapeutic and have acquired many skills in his life.
Get to know him.


10:02 AM, 28th July 2021, About 2 years ago

Do you have a wealth profile? Did he come from a palace? Next of kin 'keeping an eye' on him? Background. he won't get half way and run out of steam? Is he just plain lonely and needs something to keep him alive and interested? Sit and chat?

Tim Rogers

10:13 AM, 28th July 2021, About 2 years ago

Personally I have always found DIY tenants a nightmare. I now have clauses in the tenancy agreement that cover the following:-
a). No Gas, Electrical or plumbing diy
b). Decoration of original colour scheme or a written and signed agreement to return to original on departure.
c). Decoration to professional standard or pay to have a professional redo the substandard work.
d). Decoration to cover the cost of any peripheral consequences.
All that said, if your comfortable that this guy has the skills, ( with the caveat he signs off on a professional redo if it comes in sub standard), why not.
I'd not allow the laminate flooring as it never wears well and looks awful very quickly. But you might consider a solid wood flooring, (oak), as a joint venture. Be aware that fitting either is not as simple as folks think, not leaving expansion gaps is the common fault and not planning for fitting it under the skirting board or putting battoning around the skirting board is the other.
As for the patio, decking is simple enough, provided you can use a spirit level. But if a raised slab covered version is envisaged it requires a multitude of skills including bricklaying for the retaining boundary, (keeping things level on all 4 sides), obtaining hardcore, compacting & leveling sand/granite dust, laying the slabs, pointing the slabs and all that assumes you've planned for the drainage, not breached the damp proof course and left at least 100mm gap to allow air flow through the vent bricks under the bungalow.
If you're not sure of his skills ask for a detailed plan and explanation of how he intends to do things.
If you're lucky he's got friendly tradesmen who will undertake the work

Alec Gury

10:23 AM, 28th July 2021, About 2 years ago

Landlords need to keep in mind if the tenant wants to update the property (if he or she pays a carpenter to do it) by landlord consent then its only a good thing for the landlord because most properties have modern flooring and asthetics now.
If landlords keep a property with outdated carpet, wallpaper and furniture your restricting the value and marketing size of the property. What stops me from picking the house with a modern look beside it even if its abit more expensive to rent?

David Judd

10:51 AM, 28th July 2021, About 2 years ago

The issue here is the AST. If you allow him to do the works, and then you want to change tenants, it could be a bit awkward as he put in all the money to make the place his own. Also rent increases? What and how can he afford/manage these? As long as the rules are clear at the beginning, then you should be alright. You would probably have replaced carpets over time anyway, so having a long term tenant that wants to make changes would be OK.


13:34 PM, 28th July 2021, About 2 years ago

It sounds like he has just started his tenancy and maybe this is the first time he has rented so I would be very, very cautious that he is asking for a major change even at his own expense. I think you need to see what kind of tenant he proves to be and that takes time. Definitely get to know him and his motives. The main question is whether you want your property to have laminate floors or not? If it is an improvement then I believe you would not be able to claim the costs as an allowable expense if you were to have it done yourself at some point?

I personally would not wish to give him the go ahead simply because I am cautious and feel there are more things that could potentially go wrong than right for all parties to benefit. As you rightly say, it depends mostly on the quality of workmanship and the materials I would add. How would you be able to control those to protect your property from any disasters as a result of the work? Not only that but there are health and safety rules to abide by so the patio would have to be compliant. I have reasonably long term tenants so am happy to replace carpets throughout between tenancies which they are very happy about.

Also where are his funds coming from, are they his savings? Or are they perhaps monies from another source such as his relatives? In either case, is it prudent to agree for him to use his money this way, in the former instance, you want him to be a long term tenant able to afford rent/utilities and in the latter, would you be opening yourself up to his relatives potentially demanding the costs back from you? And what if something, heaven forbid, happens to your tenant before the work is completed and paid for?

It's always a very difficult balance between what is best for you/your property/legal obligations and keeping tenants happy. As a compromise in the short term, I would suggest that when you replace the carpets, he may contribute his preferences if he wishes but that since, truthfully, it is the first time you've had a request like this, you need time to consider all eventualities and as it is a rental property you are naturally cautious about making such a major change of flooring and patio addition.

Jo Westlake

14:19 PM, 28th July 2021, About 2 years ago

For long term tenants I'm usually pretty relaxed about them making certain improvements to the point that I tend to pay for the materials.
It depends on their skills as to what they want to do and what I'm comfortable with. I have one tenant who is perfectly competent at decorating and fantastic with gardening. I pay for paint as and when he fancies a change (so I can insist on him using a decent brand). He does whatever he wants with the garden and it's massively improved on the bland blank canvas he had at the start of the tenancy.
Another tenant is a builder and he treats his flat like a palace. He tells me what he wants to do and I tell him to invoice me appropriately. His previous landlord treated him appallingly. The tenant refitted the bathroom and kitchen at his own expense, replaced part of the roof at his own expense, did loads of plastering, etc. As soon as he'd done all of that the landlord evicted him so he could sell the property. He didn't pay a penny towards the materials or labour and had charged full rent throughout the tenancy.

I prefer to at least pay for the materials as they become part of my property. Tenants appreciate the fact that I'm happy to regard it as a partnership and recognise that it's their home. One of the most difficult things about being a landlord is organising repairs and improvements with tenants in situ. If they want to organise or do quite disruptive work themselves that's a real winner for me (as long as they have the necessary skills).

Paul Shears

15:03 PM, 28th July 2021, About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Jo Westlake at 28/07/2021 - 14:19
I think we could be related! I could not agree more. These things are always a risk but the best mitigation is your own judgement.
Tenants of this calibre are very rare and need to be particularly valued and worked with.


16:48 PM, 28th July 2021, About 2 years ago

I have had just this sort of tenant in a small bungalow for 6 years. He has put in new doors, hard floors, triple glazed windows, fitted wardrobes and the small gardens would put Alan Titchmarch to shame - all with my consent. He is very tall and it became a mobilility issue to get into the extra small bath last year so I paid half to update the bathroom to a walk in shower. He pays his rent yearly in advance. I cannot envisage any scenario where I would require the property to be returned to me and as he is older than I am in the scheme of things he would die first. I have always encouraged tenants to make it their homes (within reason, ie not red ceilings etc) and make it clear they have to get my consent first. On this basis they have all been very long standing and good tenants but I do not take on benefit tenants. Speak to him clearly so he knows he has no right of tenure till death and if you think you will not need the property back within the next decade or 2 then what is the issue. Use your own judgement but there are good tenants out there.

Paul Shears

17:08 PM, 28th July 2021, About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by colette at 28/07/2021 - 16:48
If your tenant ever wants to move to central Hampshire, let me know! 🙂
You are absolutely quite right. There are good tenants out there. We need to look after them. A win - win relationship.

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