When you call a place home, you are saying it belongs to you and is unique to you in a way other places cannot be. Home conjures images of an exclusive zone that is personalized to you. As a matter of fact, until you stamp a few marks of your personality – paint colors, décor, or furniture arrangement – on a space, it really does not feel like home.
But this can be a problem when you are renting because you don’t actually own the space even though you call it your home. You feel the urge to customize it, but also feel constrained because the real owner has limited what you can do in the house or apartment. As a renter, does this mean you must resign yourself to the feeling that you are living in somebody else’s home?
Not at all. It is possible to remodel a rented home without breaking your landlord’s rules. But you must first understand why the owner imposes those limits. As a renter, you will eventually leave the home. If you alter its appearance to suit your style, what would happen if the next tenant doesn’t like that style? They may not lease it and the landlord would have to remodel the home.
Owners bar renters from changing the appearance of a rental because landlords design their properties to make them attractive to as many potential tenants as possible. Tenants, on the other hand, if allowed to remodel the home, only think about what they like. This limits the home’s appeal and may force a landlord to spend money restoring the home after the tenant leaves.
Most landlords do not really mind tenants making minor changes to a home. They know that if you are comfortable in the property, you are likely to stay for an extended period. How can you remodel your rented home to avoid creating problems for your landlord, while also making yourself happy and comfy?
Below are some dos and don’ts for making a rental property feel more like home.
What to do before remodeling a rental home
- Read the lease agreement to know what your landlord will let you do and what they won’t let you do.
- If in doubt, ask the owner. Note that even if something is prohibited by the lease, the owner might let you do it, provided they know you will restore the home on your departure.
- The lease requires the home to be left in the same condition as it was when you moved in. Take careful note of what the home looks like before you start altering it.
The dos of rental remodeling
- Repaint your walls
This is naturally the first change you would like to make, as rental properties are often painted in unexciting colors. But repainting a rental is a dicey proposal; many landlords will let you do it only if you agree in writing to have the home professionally restored when your lease ends.
- Update the lighting fixtures
This is one of the easiest and most effective changes to make. Light fixtures in rentals are often cheap, basic, and insufficient. Changing and improving the lighting will make the home more welcoming. Doing this will not break your lease terms since you can store the old fixtures and replace them when you are ready to move out.
- Add more shelves
Rental property storage is usually sparse. You can change that by adding more shelves to the walls. To hang a shelf, you only need to drill a few tiny holes, which can easily be refilled at the expiration of your lease. Your landlord may even like the additional shelves, in which case you won’t need to remove them.
- Replace old linoleum
The linoleum on the kitchen floor may not be old but it could be outdated. For just $150 you will be able to update the linoleum to a more exciting and up-to-date design. This is not a change you have to redo when you leave, because you will be improving the home.
The don’ts of rental remodeling
- Change door locks
On no occasion should you attempt to change door locks without the landlord’s permission. To change door locks in a rental home is effectively to lock the owner out of their own property. If you don’t feel safe with the current door locks, discuss it with the owner before you do anything.
- Major changes
Major renovations are changes that take a chunk of cash out of your pocket. The reason not to do them is because in addition to violating the lease terms, the owner will not reimburse you for those things. Examples of such changes include replacing carpets, appliances, or security systems.
- Changing the landscaping
The landscaping around the home is a huge part of the home’s curb appeal. It is also designed with local council regulations and HOA rules in mind. You should leave it alone. Besides, landscaping renovations will cost you a lot of money.