Renting a house that requires renovation

As some of you might have seen from another thread, my wife and I are having a hard time finding housing that meets our expectations. While we have amended our expectations, we have decided to explore going with a house that requires significant renovation. When we looked at it the landlord was there…apparently he is a wealthy, US educated (almost no accent) Taiwanese guy who owns and runs properties around Taipei (no idea how many). He showed us pictures of the house next door that he renovated recently and while it is a little too modern for my liking, the current house is way to old school for my liking, so a little more modern is definitely a good thing.

We are going to make an offer of an all-in rental amount and a list of renovations and requirements. Inspired by a recent thread here, I’d like to ask you if you have any suggestions on how to proceed in a way to protect myself.

Also, so you know, my wife currently lives in Taipei Mon-Fri, will move there completely in early June, and the kids and I will move in early August and have one month of corporate housing we can use. All that is to say that my wife can oversee renovation and we don’t need the house for 2-3 months, which should be long enough for the projects.

Has anyone been asked to pay for 6 months at a time?

Also, at the time of contract we are being asked to give 3 months deposit. Is this normal? I don’t like the idea of this as if the renovation is done shoddy and we walk, we’re still on the hook for a huge amount of money.

Question: Is this a house, fully detached on its own plot of land or just a condo in a high rise?

Clarify your use of “house” please.

We have recently replaced windows, floors, full electrical, water systems and painting. If you are not on sight all day everyday and have a good grasp of Chinese I would not go down this path. You need to project manage here or shit will fall through the cracks.

1 Like

It is a detached house with its own land, front yard, pool, and driveway.

1 Like

Our rental includes all maintenance and other fees. Also, we don’t move in if we don’t agree with the quality of the renovations. If something breaks, the landlord has to fix it.

1 Like

Sounds like a great deal!

Shoddy workmanship here is all too common. What looks like a job well done often starts falling apart or showing signs of how bad it was done within months.

As mentioned above, you really need to have someone there all the time as work is being done.

Going with the idea that the landlord will just fix it is not always a great idea. If the landlord decides it’s just a cosmetic blemish and not something that needs to be fixed, then you are out of luck or out of pocket. If it is plumbing or electric that needs fixing…be ready for days to weeks of jackhammers ripping out concrete. Not very pleasant.

When we bought new, we wanted to change a few rooms and add some stuff to customize our home
We hired an interior decorator who hired construction crews, carpenters, electricians and plumbers for us.

Our interior decorator had someone on site watching every day and taking pictures. We also visited the property at the end of each day to inspect the work.

I can tell you I am so glad I was there each day. I had to raise issue with certain things at least a dozen times. Almost always the people doing the work would try to brush my concerns off by saying things like “it’s fine for Taiwan” or “That’s how it’s done here” etc. I had to really insist and make it known I was watching. Glad that headache is all over.


When I bought a place in China I was the same way (and every day had some level of input. Unfortunately I cannot be there until the last 30 days, and my wife is far too busy to go more than twice a week for short visits. The good news is we aren’t buying, will be in the country for a max of 2 years, and can leave early with a minimal penalty.

But I thank you and everyone else for your advice. The message is clear and we’ll do what we can to mitigate.

The maximum, by law, is two months. If you pay the extra month anyway, you can deduct it from the rent. (Iirc it’s in the Civil Code.)

1 Like

Thanks for that. Do you think the advice/analysis here is correct. Taiwan Guide: Taiwanese rental contracts, Property law and you: Whether renting through an agency or directly

We already got him down to two months, but he wants us to also prepay one (basically your formulation above). What makes this different is that we won’t move in for 3 months and we have to take the quality of the renovation on faith (and a well-constructed contract, though I don’t think reliance on the legal system is wise.)

Never ever take things on faith, not in Taiwan, not anywhere!

Never ever half quote people’s responses to change the meaning of what they are saying.

You pay when you sign the lease and take the keys. You would be paying the 2 month deposit and 1st month’s rent at that time.

My hunch is they are asking for this up front because they want to use it to fund the renovations. It’s not typical and I wouldn’t do it.

1 Like

That’s good practical advice but not quite true. A contract can be in any language unless there’s a law stating otherwise. Most contracts don’t even need to be in writing. The problem is whether, and how easily, you can prove the content of the contract, keeping in mind that foreign languages are not the judiciary’s forte.


I signed a lease contract recently and I was surprised to be informed by the legal staff that, now, the law is that the tenant can notify the landlord of early termination of contract with only 1 month in advance to be able to receive the full deposit back (if no damages to the property). It used to be 2 months in all my previous transactions.
FYI, the contract was designed with the Taipei MRT Transit, so their lawyers were insiders (more than you would expect from the average landlord rip off ‘lawyer’)