When a property is leased to a new tenant(s), they are required to sign a rental agreement. One of the clauses laden within the rental agreement is the improvements and modifications clause, which is an addendum that allows tenant(s) to make reasonable modifications and improvements to the rental property. Typically, these are limited to minor alterations and modifications that don’t alter the structure of the unit. Instead, they are limited to aesthetic and minor modifications, such as a new paint job, windows, doors, curtains, etc. In some cases, landlords may request notification before any modifications, which may be inserted into the improvements and modifications lease agreement.
As this clause is intended to provide some degree of freedom to the tenant(s), as well as remove some of the hassle and micromanagement for landlords, it is particularly important that a legally sound improvements and modifications clause clearly define the extent to which improvements may be made. Generally, such clauses also include a pre-approval clause, which is contingent upon the type of alteration being made. These require the approval of the landlord to commence and are typically inserted in case the tenant(s) would like to significantly modify certain aspects of the property. As a result, such clauses typically define the permitted improvements and modifications within the following parameters;
- The modification(s) and/or improvement(s) will have no impact on another resident (s) of the building and/or tenant(s) of the same property. In the case that you would like to install something that may bother another tenant (s), clauses like the improvements and modifications addendum make it necessary to obtain landlord approval.
- The modification(s) and/or improvement(s) will not reduce the value of the property in question. This typically applies to things like flooring, carpeting, lighting, etc. and prevents tenant(s) from removing pre-installed facilities in the case that it may cause a fall in the value of the property. Some addendums allow for landlord approval to override this clause.
- The modification(s) and/or improvement(s) will not be carried out without landlord approval in the case that (a) specific permit may be required. Typically, such permits require landlord approval in and of themselves, and so, such modifications will, by extension, require landlord approval as well.
- The modification(s) and/or improvement(s) will not have any sort of negative impact on the structural and foundational integrity of the building and/or property in question.
The aforementioned factors are typically integrated into a modifications and improvements lease addendum, allowing the tenant to make minor changes, while also giving the landlord legal protection against overreaching changes that harm the property.
How to Write
This is a fairly simple and short clause that may be inserted into a rental agreement. That being said, we still recommend a lawyer or a real estate agent with expertise in the field of real estate law to look over anything before signing. To draft an improvements and modifications lease addendum, you will be required to add the following sections;
- The first section will require the name(s) of the tenant(s) as well as the name of the landlord to be declared, along with a referral to the original rental agreement of which the addendum is intended to be a part of. Additionally, the date of signing the addendum, as well as the date of the original rental agreement, should be added. Finally, the address of the property should be listed, along with the city, state, and ZIP code.
- The second section should highlight and explain to the tenant(s) all the modifications they are allowed to make. Typically, these are defined by words such as “minor” and/or “reasonable,” and so, this section must define the scope of those words as they pertain to improvements and modifications. Some landlords may opt for much clearer language and/or forbid improvements and modifications altogether. Others may choose to allow for aesthetic changes only, so this section will need to be drafted depending on the landlord’s wishes.
- The landlord and the tenant(s) that are party to the addendum will need to acknowledge the addendum by signing their names along with the date of signature. This closes and seals the improvements and modifications lease addendum.