Can you renovate occupied units?

10 Replies

Hi Everyone,

My question isn't quite as it's stated in the subject line. I know that entering the premises without tenant permission is a constructive eviction and would warrant criminal liability. My question is whether anyone has renovated occupied units, with tenant permission, and how receptive are tenants to this possibility? 



Never have but I've offered to do smaller jobs, like retile a shower, if tenant goes on vacation. Schedules never worked out though. It's hard to do real work with furniture and personal items in the way.

Depending on the scope of the reno @Felix Sharpe , it can be doable.  Refinishing the wood floor in the living room would be pretty much impossible, but working in the bathroom or the basement or the exterior could work.  What were you thinking of doing?

@Steve Vaughan

We're relaying a wood floor in a living room next week (due to water damage) ... not something I would normally do with a rented unit, but it's not a normal situation.

Gotcha @Roy N. - good luck with your project.  Bummer, that!

Laying a floor is tough but more feasible at least than the sanding, staining and polycoating an existing.  That's what I meant, anyway! 

@Steve Vaughan we haven't got our first property yet, but many of the properties we've seen need wood floor restoration, if not more. There's a possibility that we'll buy an unoccupied property, but I just wanted to know my options in case the opposite is true.

I had a tenant come look at a property the day after we closed on it.  It needed painting and a bunch of other minor repairs.  She wanted to move in right away as her apartment had been broken into and she no longer felt safe there.  (Landlord confirmed the story, so I know I wasn't being played).  One of her daughters was having nightmares and stuff, so she was really desperate.  I told her she could move in, but not put furniture against the walls since they needed to be painted.

She complied.  She moved in, but left everything in the center of the rooms.  She scheduled a camping trip for the next weekend and left the place vacant so I was able to get in, finish all the painting and minor repairs and when she came back from her trip, it was all ready to go.  I gave her a discount on that month's rent (it was a pro-rated month anyways) and everything is now groovy.

How are you going to realize the value from the renovation?    

My take on how it s/b done from my better lead investors is to rehab units as they come vacant.   Show them to existing tenants, and they're lining up to move into them @ $100+/mo. higher rents.    When that happens, renovate the unit they vacated, and do it all over again.

Renovating an occupied unit is tricky.   Stuff is in the way, the tenants will likely be inconvenienced.    What if the tenants' possessions get damaged, or even worse, the tenants get hurt by some aspect of the renovation?      They're also less likely to agree to a rent increase if you initiate the reno to their unit, and by the time they vacate for the next tenant, it's no longer a fresh renovation.    IMO, the downsides far outweigh any potential benefits of renovating an occupied unit.

We have renovated bathrooms and kitchens while the tenants were living in the apartment.  People paint all the time when they are occupying their apartment.  It just hurts for a little while

About 10 years ago we rented a town house where the owner had asked us if he could make some improvements. We were glad to have them. The work was done while we were working and we came home to updates. I would ask tenants and see what they think. I have installed upgrades at a tenants request with the knowledge that the rent would go up.

It would be CRUCIAL to hit the timelines that you quote the tenant and to explain the process.

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