What Renters Can and Cannot Change Around the Home

by Matty ByloosMay 30, 2016

Make the Most of Your Rental Without Getting Into Trouble

A home isn’t just a place to live, it’s a canvas for personal expression, a showcase for your unique style. But as a renter, you simply don’t have the carte blanche that homeowners enjoy.

Still, there are plenty of things you can do to spruce up your living space. Follow these tips and you’ll be able to make your rental feel like home sweet home, without getting into hot water with your landlord.
Couple redecorating house and painting wall together

Check Your Rental Agreement

Before you start getting too excited about home improvement projects, it’s best to peruse your rental agreement to see what sort of alterations it allows. Some landlords are rather strict about what changes they will permit while others take a more laissez-faire approach.

Talk to Your Landlord

If your rental agreement allows you to do the projects you have in mind without consulting your landlord, then go right ahead and do them. If not, you may still be able to make improvements, so long as you discuss them with your landlord first.

You never know – your property owner might be willing to make an exception if you sit down with them and present the changes you’d like to make, especially if you can convince them that your improvements will bolster their property value.  You might even be able to convince them to deduct labor and materials from your rent.

Get It in Writing

Whatever terms you and your landlord agree to, don’t make any handshake deals–You need to get the landlord’s permission in writing. Most landlords are good people who just want to protect their investments, but there are a few unscrupulous property owners out there who might change their minds after the fact and try to keep your deposit. And if your landlord is the absent-minded type, they may just plain forget that they have already given you permission to make improvements.

Portable Versus Permanent

Even if you’re renting from an extremely change-averse landlord, there are things you can do in just about any rental property which are temporary and can easily be undone when you move out.
Red For Rent Real Estate Sign in Front of Beautiful House.
For example, a snazzy area rug can make you forget all about the shabby carpet underneath it. Drab walls can be easily dressed up with some colorful artwork. If you’re worried about nail holes, just get some removable adhesive wall hangers. Don’t like the fixtures on the kitchen cabinets? They’re easy enough to swap out. Replacing knobs is extremely simple, and if you can find drawer pulls with similar dimensions, you may not have to put any additional holes in the drawers. Just make sure you keep the old fixtures so you can put them back when you move out.

If you’re feeling the need to indulge your green thumb, you can create a portable garden in a recycled wine barrel, or a space saving and air quality-improving living wall. Also, the right lighting can really make a house sparkle, but some property owners are more concerned with economy than style. If the lamps around your rental property just aren’t doing it for you, light fixtures are easy enough to change. When you do, make sure you cut the power to your home before swapping them out, or you could end up getting more “sparkle” than you bargained for. And by that we mean please don’t electrocute yourself!


Home is where the heart is, and we hope these tips make your heart sing. And by the way, if you’re interested in buying a home so you can change whatever you want, Homes.com is always here to help!

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Happy house hunting!

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About The Author
Matty Byloos
Matty is the Content Marketing Specialist for Homes.com. He's a newly minted homeowner who currently lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife. When he's not working, he enjoys writing fiction, working on the house, and enjoying the amazing nature that the city has to offer. He is also the founder of NOVEL Creative Agency.