How To Renew A Lease (and get a free upgrade!)

Landlords HATE switching tenants. It's a ton of work for them, introduces a lot of uncertainty into their finances, and carries a lot of risk. They love it when you renew your lease - for them, there's essentially zero work involved, and they're assured another year of rent checks from someone they already know. You can use their preference to your advantage. I got an email from a friend asking if it was standard for a landlord to offer a free upgrade when you renew your lease. Here is my response:

"That doesn’t sound standard, per se, to me. However, landlords do need to replace things as they wear out due to normal wear and tear. Do you know how old the carpet is? Or when it was painted last? I think it would be totally reasonable to ask for the interior to be painted or the carpet to be replaced if those things weren’t done right when you moved in (ie, if the paint or carpet is more than 3 years old).

"Now that I think about it, there are a few items I would ask him to take care of while renewing your lease. You could even write these directly onto the lease. You are absolutely correct in having high expectations of him while signing on for another year. Landlords will always sink to the lowest possible level of maintenance and attention for their tenants that they can get away with. Most landlords, anyway. The way to rectify that is to have high expectations and just pretend it’s normal. Form letter:

Mr. X,

Thank you for the opportunity to renew the lease. It’s a great location and I enjoy living here here, and look forward to at least another year.

As I have been living here for nearly 3 years now, there are a few maintenance items that have cropped up. Sorry I didn’t get around to emailing you about these sooner, I’ve just been really busy.

  • Wall patch in master bedroom to be sanded and painted
  • Kitchen cabinets/drawers fixed
  • Master bedroom door doesn’t shut properly
  • Electric space heaters removed
  • Large gaps around living room windows filled/caulked

I have also noticed that the carpet is getting pretty worn out and is due to be replaced. Nothing serious, just normal wear and tear. I know this is typically done between tenants – I have no problem working around your schedule - just let me know what day to expect them and I’ll be sure to accommodate. If you take a look and feel the carpet does not require replacing, please arrange to have it professionally cleaned as would be typically done between tenants.

One other item – you had mentioned getting washer/dryer hookups installed at some point(this was before I even moved in). Has that been done?


As you can see, the tone of the letter is formal, and strong yet polite. Feel free to steal the template above to use when contacting your landlord.

Did you negotiate an upgrade when renewing your lease? Let me know in the comments below!