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What You Can and Can't Decorate in Your Rental Home

12 April 2021 Simon Banks Read time: 3 min
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Simon Banks

What you can and can't do when it comes to decorating your rental home is a topic of hot debate. Over the years, renters have been given more flexibility to make the place they rent feel like a home, but there are still some constraints.

Most landlords would probably suffer from a heart attack if they found out you knocked down a wall to merge two of the rooms while also replacing the flooring. But adding a few pictures and maybe even painting a wall or two can be deemed acceptable. 

So what can and can't you do in regards to decorating your rental home? In this guide, we're detailing everything you need to know. So read on and become an expert in all things decoration. 

First thing's first, always get the landlord's consent

From the landlord's point of view, they want the property to look the same as when they first let it. That means matching the initial inventory report. As long as you meet this requirement, what happens in between and during the tenancy mostly comes down to what you agree with them. 

If you're unsure about what you can and can't decorate, it's best to look at your tenancy agreement, as it will outline stipulations about the rental. Of course, if you still have questions, it's best to speak with the landlord or managing agent of the property directly. 

The one thing you mustn't do is assume. If you break the rules of your tenancy by decorating something you're not supposed to, you could lose out on your security deposit. Or, even worse, the landlord may deem the breach of the tenancy enough to try and evict you. 

Do's

The good news is that there are lots of things you can do around your home regarding decoration, and you won't need the landlord's permission either. The following is a list of quick and easy fixes to make your rental pad more homely. 

Furnishings

Whether you live in a furnished or unfurnished property, you can add more items to your home. From sofas to bedside tables, you're not limited when it comes to furniture. So if you think that coffee table you saw on a furniture app would suit your living room, don't hesitate to order it and add to the aesthetics of your place. 

It's all about the art

Drilling holes in the wall might be a no-no, but you can still hang some pretty jazzy wall art in your home. Hanging a picture without nails is entirely possible as long as you have things like command strips. They're durable and give you the chance to create a stylish look with paintings and other types of wall art. 

Mirror, mirror on the wall

As well as hanging a nice picture, you can also add a mirror or two. Doing so is especially helpful if you have a smaller place and want to make it seem more spacious. Oh, and, you know, it's also handy if you like catching a glimpse of yourself in the mirror or spending all day in front of it practising your Blue Steel

Don'ts

We've covered some of the things you can do in your rental home, but what is off-limits? Of course, if there are any damages to things like hard furnishings that are no fault of your own, the landlord has a responsibility to repair them. But you can't just go and change this stuff because you feel like it. 

Refurbishing

One thing you certainly can't do is refurbish the home. That means changing hard furnishings like kitchen cabinets and fixtures and fittings. Also, don't get any ideas about removing walls or creating an extra room by adding a partition wall. Doing so will see you in serious breach of the tenancy agreement., 

Change the outside

While we're on the subject of major changes, it's probably best that you don't get any ideas about changing the exterior. Unsurprisingly, repainting the house a completely different colour is certainly frowned upon, as is making any structural changes to the outside of the building. 

Replace the flooring

Also, don't get any ideas about changing the wood floors or carpets inside the property. These also count as hard furnishings, and you can't suddenly decide you'd like a bit of Amtico wood flooring in the living room. 

Maybes

Ok, so we've covered the do's and don'ts, but what about the grey areas? Each landlord is different, and some may be more willing to give you the creative freedom to decorate than others. This is where communication is important, especially when it comes to the list below. 

Get your paint on

This is a tricky one, as some landlords are happy for you to paint the walls as long as you restore them to the original colour when you leave. If the landlord gives you permission to paint, you can really add your own touch to the place and experiment with different colour pallets.  

Hanging shelves

While there can be no arguments about self-standing shelves, you will need to speak to the landlord if you plan to use wall shelves. They fall under the drilling remit (more on that below), and some landlords may not be happy for you to put nails in the walls. 

Top driller

Drilling is usually frowned upon by landlords. However, some are happy for you to do it as long as you remove the screws and fill the wall when you move out. In that case, they may allow you to hang things like pictures, shelves and even wall-mounted televisions. 

The do's and the don's 

As you can see, there's a fair amount that you can do when it comes to renting a home. By knowing where you stand and what you can decorate, you can maximise your living experience, adding a touch of flair here and there to make your rental property a true home.

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