Should I renovate my flat (that I rent) with my own money?

25 posts in this topic

We all know how insane it is getting a flat contract in Berlin, especially if you're a foreigner. I have a wonderful place for a great price, that could use some modernizing.

I cook everyday, yet the kitchen looks like it's from the 70s. Not a very sexy place to send hours in really. So I would like to replace the floors and install new and modern looking cabinets etc... maybe even remove the wall so it opens up into the dining room which would be lovely.

 

There's also a weirdly placed closet that comes out from the wall out about half a meter, that totally ruins the dining room. I would rather have an open space unobstructed then an inconveniently placed closet.
 

My landlord said I could do the renovations myself, out of my own pocket. And that anything I install, would become property of the building owner - my question is - is this a good idea to invest €3 - €5k? I will not be moving for at least another 3/4 years, which at that point I would buy.

Curious if anyone has done this before?

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I think you might find it difficult to get new floors and new cabinets for less than €5k - to say nothing of structural alterations like removing or relocating walls. Although there are some cheap fixes you can do with the cabinet surfaces - there are specialist companies like Portas that simply affix patterned linoleum foils to your existing stuff and give it a completely different look. Likewise linoleum for the floors. If you decide to rip things out and replace them completely, that's when things will get really expensive.

 

Regardless of the costs, if you're going to put any of your own money into improving your rental place, I'd try to get a guarantee from your landlord that he won't raise your rent for at least the next 5 years or so.

 

 

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It's up to you as you're the one who lives there. We replaced the ugly, brown Oma tiles in our bathroom floor to ceiling when we moved in. People thought we were crazy. 20+ yrs. later, we're glad we did it. We also replace a linoleum floor with tile in the WC.

 

As El Jeffo said, there are cheaper ways to dress up an old kitchen with a lick of paint, new countertops and sink, etc.

 

There might be a chimney or pipes behind that sticky outy wall. Did you ask your landlord?

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Of course, it's up to you.  However, you run the risk that you'll make it very nice, the friendly landlord comes over for a cuppa, likes it and decides he wants to live in it now.  Notice wegen eigenbedarf and then you are out.

 

If you decide to do it, make sure you run the changes by the landlord first and ask about the wall before you try to remove it.  Like Jeffo said, getting a guarantee that your rent will stay the same is not a bad idea.

 

 

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On second thought, if I were your landlord and you replaced the whole kitchen and floor with something of which I approved, I would probably lower your rent a bit for 3 years. It would save me a big upgrade cost and time lost doing it myself between renters.

 

I'd probably ask you for all the receipts so that I could write it off of my taxes, too.  :lol:

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When we signed our contract for our place in Hamburg back in the day, which wan't finished yet, we made a deal with the landlord, who only wanted to spend DM5K on a simple kitchen (yes, it was way back in the day): we said we'd invest another 10k, which would be amortized 1/5 per year over five years in case we moved out before those 5 years, as well as a guarantee that he wouldn't raise our rent during that time. The landlord got all the receipts, as fraufruit mentioned.

 

We ended up moving out (to Berlin) after 3 years, so we got 4k back.

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2 hours ago, heathergramz said:

 And that anything I install, would become property of the building owner - my question is - is this a good idea to invest €3 - €5k? I will not be moving for at least another 3/4 years.

 

Let's look at this from another angle, if you bought a car for €5k what would it be worth after 4 years?

 

Answer, a lot more than your kitchen renovation which, as you explain, will have zero value as your landlord gets to inherit it when you move out.

What you seem to be missing is not just the initial outlay of €3-5k which I think is a hard ask even by Ikea standards, but the groundwork involved in organising and sourcing all the right equipment, fixtures, contractors etc and not forgetting it will also cost you some of your holiday allowance.

 

Personally, I would try and negotiate with the landlord for him to renovate and bear the costs of the kitchen with a view to an agreed increase in rent for the next 4 years, with perhaps a penalty clause should you move out earlier.

 

To pay for this yourself with zero return is a bit dumb if you ask me especially when someone else benefits, if the landlord is not forthcoming then compromise, either move on or wait, 4 years goes very quickly.

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1 hour ago, fraufruit said:

We replaced the ugly, brown Oma tiles in our bathroom floor to ceiling when we moved in. 

What's wrong with the 1970s :)?My parents had purple tiles - BTW.

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You definitely should try to negotiate some kind of quid pro quo. We moved into a flat once and did the floors (Laminat) in exchange for a month's free rent - something like that. Another time the landlord re-did the bathroom and we agreed to a rent increase. Don't just fork out that kind of money without getting your back scratched too...IMHO.

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6 hours ago, fraufruit said:

It's up to you as you're the one who lives there. We replaced the ugly, brown Oma tiles in our bathroom floor to ceiling when we moved in. People thought we were crazy. 20+ yrs. later, we're glad we did it. We also replace a linoleum floor with tile in the WC.

 

As El Jeffo said, there are cheaper ways to dress up an old kitchen with a lick of paint, new countertops and sink, etc.

 

 

There's also a special kind of paint for tiles... so you don't have to remove them.  I am thinking about doing this to my own bathroom and kitchen wall tiles.

 

 

 

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8 minutes ago, wien4ever said:

 

There's also a special kind of paint for tiles... so you don't have to remove them.  I am thinking about doing this to my own bathroom and kitchen wall tiles.

 

 

The problem is, it'll probably not look as good at the ad and you may in heaps of trouble with the landlord who could request that you clean the paint off as you move.  Hence, always run it by the landlord before you do something.  You can get a sample tile at a baumarkt, paint it, show it to the landlord and get approval.

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I did what you´re planning to do (in Cyprus though). I upgraded the house I´m renting after securing permission to do so in the lease contract which has my landlord waive the right to terminate it (unless I fail to fulfill my contractual obligations) and which gives me an option to extend the lease by 20 years (during which I can terminate with 3 months notice). Plus the lease stipulates that the landlord cannot demand that I remove the changes I did after termination of the lease. Plus I had the contract checked by a lawyer. You might want to consider the same (or have it checked by the Mieterverein). You need to protect yourself against that the landlord raises the rent or kicks you out in order to rent the place out for a higher rent because it´s worth more after the upgrades.

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48 minutes ago, jeba said:

You need to protect yourself against that the landlord raises the rent or kicks you out in order to rent the place out for a higher rent because it´s worth more after the upgrades.

 

Do keep up. Landlords can't kick out sitting tenants that refuse a raise in rent. Especially not because of approved upgrades that the tenant makes.

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9 hours ago, fraufruit said:

 

Do keep up. Landlords can't kick out sitting tenants that refuse a raise in rent. Especially not because of approved upgrades that the tenant makes.

 

Then why would any tenant accept a rent increase if you can just refuse it?

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13 minutes ago, MadAxeMurderer said:

 

Then why would any tenant accept a rent increase if you can just refuse it?

 

He might not know that he can refuse the increase or he knows that the increase is grounded and that the landlord will take him to court to push it through if he doesn't accept.

 

There are certain rules for the landlord to increase the rent that must be followed.  For example, he has to give the tenant proper notice in writing, he can't raise the rent more than the average in the area, he can't raise it more than 20% (15% in some areas) in a 3 year period, he can't raise it in the first year on a new contract etc.  A tenant can fight an increase based on those reasons but if the increase in rent is grounded, then the court will uphold the increase and the tenant will lose.

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10 hours ago, fraufruit said:

 

Do keep up. Landlords can't kick out sitting tenants that refuse a raise in rent. Especially not because of approved upgrades that the tenant makes.

What Leon said:

36 minutes ago, LeonG said:

There are certain rules for the landlord to increase the rent that must be followed.  For example, he has to give the tenant proper notice in writing, he can't raise the rent more than the average in the area, he can't raise it more than 20% (15% in some areas) in a 3 year period, he can't raise it in the first year on a new contract etc.  A tenant can fight an increase based on those reasons but if the increase in rent is grounded, then the court will uphold the increase and the tenant will lose.

I´d go for a "Staffelmietvereinbarung" (i. e. rent increases are agreed on in advance for up to 10 years) to exclude any risk of unexpected rent increase. And I´d rule out "Eigenbedarf".

 

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2 hours ago, LeonG said:

he can't raise it more than 20% (15% in some areas) in a 3 year period

 

With these limits, many landlords can't be arsed to go to court and incur those expenses, for one thing unless the tenant has been sitting for many years with the same rent. 

 

I think that @lisa13 knows the most about this.

 

We asked for a raise in rent on a tenant once and she just moved out instead of fighting it. That was fine because we wanted to renovate the flat anyway.

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I don't think most people would fail to agree to a legal increase as they then incur their own legal costs plus the landord's costs when they go to court and lose, on top of having the increase enforced.  

 

Pretty simple?

 

eta:  from my own experience and that of friends/coworkers, it appears many landlords can't be arsed to even formulate a legal increase.  It's pretty strange.

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15 hours ago, LeonG said:

The problem is, it'll probably not look as good at the ad and you may in heaps of trouble with the landlord who could request that you clean the paint off as you move.

 

I painted the kitchen's backsplash tile in my house in Boston.  I owned, the tile was a hideous fleshy color, and I didn't have the cash to tackle it right away so I went with a painted solution for the time being.  I first had to use a special primer for tile, then an oil based paint on top.  It looked ok.  Not great, but not terrible at all.  I can attest there was no way in hell that paint would ever come off though.  It was in place for 8 years (no I never got around to replacing it :) ) and there was not one knick or scratch, no peeling, no fading, nothing.  It held up perfectly.

 

Which was good.  But I would not use this in any situation where you might ever possibly need to restore the original tile.

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Re tile paint - when i missed it of my last apartment,  the owner had the tiles in the kitchen painted.  It looked like new tiles,  but they did have it done by a professional

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