There are plenty of benefits to living in a rental unit, from having some utilities covered to not having to make your own home repairs. Many times, renting can also be cheaper than owning a home. So, it’s no wonder why more people are renting over buying now more than any other time over the last 50 years.
But, one of the potential drawbacks of living in a rental unit is that you usually aren’t able to make many home improvements or changes to the space. There are good reasons for this, of course. Chances are, you aren’t going to live there forever and your landlord wants to keep the unit as “neutral” as possible for future renters, especially if you’re just doing a short-term rental.
Some contracts and lease agreements are more stringent than others when it comes to the changes you can and can’t make. So, what can you do to make changes to your rental that won’t violate any rules within your contract, and won’t upset your landlord?
Develop a Respectful Relationship With Your Landlord
One of the best things you can do from the moment you move in is to try to develop a positive, respectful relationship with your landlord. It’s important for tenants and landlords to have regular communication and not just speak to each other when problems arise. When your landlord knows that you’re responsible and respectful, they may be willing to work with you on any changes you want to make.
Even if certain changes aren’t allowed based on the lease agreement, it never hurts to ask, especially if you have a good relationship with your landlord. For example, if you want to hang shelves but you aren’t sure whether it’s allowed, go ahead and ask! You can either suggest to your landlord that it’s an improvement to the space you’re willing to make for them or assure them that they will be gone and everything will be back to normal by the time you leave the unit.
Speaking of making improvements, another way you can develop a better relationship with your landlord is to take charge of home maintenance. One of the reasons many people enjoy renting is because they don’t have to take care of improvements and regular maintenance jobs. But, if it’s something you don’t mind doing, it can earn you a few “bonus points” in your landlord’s book! Some common home maintenance tasks you can choose to take care of include:
- Cleaning gutters
- Testing the A/C or cooling system
- Reapplying weather stripping to doors and windows
- Changing out air filters
Get Creative With Interior Changes
If you happen to have a landlord that won’t budge on letting you make major changes, then get creative with the things you can do. There are plenty of DIY solutions you can put into place to make a rental feel more like home without upsetting your landlord in the process. Some of the easiest projects to tackle that can make a big difference include:
- Changing light fixtures
- Replacing window coverings
- Painting (check with your landlord first to get color approval)
- Changing the hardware on cabinets and doors
- Putting up reusable wallpaper
As you can see, these are small changes that don’t require a lot of time or effort. But, they can completely change the look of your apartment or rental home without causing any damage. Many landlords are okay with changes like these as long as you are willing to return things back to normal before you leave the property. Even if you can’t make these changes, you can still add a touch of your personality to your rental through your decor. If you can’t paint the walls, for example, hang a gallery wall of your favorite pictures or art pieces.
Let Your Personality Shine Outside
While you might not have to worry about curb appeal with a rental home, making changes to the exterior of your unit can help you to let your creative side shine and make your space feel more “homey” from the moment you see it from the street.
If you enjoy spending time outdoors, doing regular yard work and landscaping is actually something your landlord will probably appreciate. From trimming shrubs for a privacy hedge to planting a flower or vegetable garden, there are many ways to get your hands dirty and make beautiful changes to your rental home’s exterior.
When you rent a home, you can enjoy the benefits of more flexibility, the opportunity to save money, and all without having to be “tied down” to one location for years. So, don’t be afraid to get creative when it comes to making changes to your rental unit, no matter how long you’re there. Even if it is just a stepping stone on your path to buying a house, it can still be a home that fits your personality and style.