September 28th, 2022
5 questions you need to ask before signing a lease
Tips & How to's
Renting offers a lot of benefits, with the primary one being that you have more flexibility around living where you want without being tied to a mortgage.
However, for many renters, the most significant downside is that a rental property rarely feels like a home because there are limitations on what you can and can’t do to personalise it. While a lucky few may have the freedom to repaint the walls, put up shelving or make other cosmetic changes to their rental properties (so long as they restore it to normal when leaving), many renters just have to make do.
However, while you may not be able to make large-scale changes to the look and feel of a rental property, there are several easy, temporary additions that can transform your space and help it feel like more than just four walls, a floor and a roof.
In this guide, we explore a few ways you can personalise your rental property to feel more like your own home.
Before you can start to work your magic though, you first need to know what you can and cannot change as a tenant in a rental property. As a general rule, tenants are expected to leave a property as they found it, with the exception of general wear and tear such as fading and fraying on carpets, scuffs on floors and skirting boards, and worn paint around commonly used fixtures such as light switches.
However, anything which intentionally damages or alters the appearance of the property is generally considered to be off-limits without the prior permission of the landlord or Property Manager. This includes major additions or amendments such as building a deck or retaining wall (not something you’ll usually see renters doing, but worth mentioning nonetheless) and even minor damage caused by attaching picture hooks or furniture anchors.
An easy way to know whether or not you can make a change as a tenant is to ask yourself if it can be removed with no evidence of it ever having been there. A new couch or freestanding bookcase is no problem but if you’re painting the walls or screwing in picture hooks, then you’re probably best to avoid it.
As a general rule, reach out and ask your Property Manager first—they will provide more guidance.
In the meantime, here are some general suggestions to consider to make your rental property feel more like your home.
Although you might not be able to landscape the back lawn or build the veggie garden of your dreams, it doesn’t mean that you can’t bring some nature into your life as a renter. Indoor plants are the answer! Incredibly low impact and requiring next to no maintenance, indoor plants are one of the best ways to brighten up a property and make it feel more like a home.
You can start by taking cuttings from friends or by investing in a few pots and seedlings and going from there. You also don’t need to limit yourself to decorative plants: small vertical veggie gardens are becoming increasingly popular and are a great method for growing food in a small space without the use of traditional garden beds.
The best part about keeping houseplants is that, whether you have a few ferns or a miniature green retreat, when it comes time to move out, they can all be loaded into the car and taken with you to your next home. Just make sure you put a dish or saucer underneath your pots to catch any leaks and it will be like they were never there.
One of the major downsides of being in a rental property is not being able to put holes in the walls for screws or picture hooks, meaning many renters choose not to have any art in their homes at all. While Blu Tac or drawing pins are generally off the table due to the damage they cause, you can easily pick up non-damaging adhesive picture hooks from any hardware store that will let you get your frame off the ground and displayed in all of its glory.
If those aren’t quite right, you don’t have to accept bare walls for the entirety of your tenancy. Having a self-standing painting or picture frame atop a table, dresser or on top of a bookshelf is the easiest way to display your artwork to add a relaxed, bohemian vibe to your house. You might not be able to have the gallery wall you’ve always dreamt of but it’s a great start to styling your space.
Few things make a bigger difference to the level of comfort and overall cosiness of a home than lighting. Naked bulbs that give out harsh, white light are an unfortunate mainstay in rental properties but they don’t need to simply be tolerated. In fact, they are one of the easiest changes of all that you can make as a tenant.
Swap out the cold, unnatural white light globe for a warmer, softer hue, or better yet, invest in a couple of smart bulbs and choose any colour to make every room feel truly special. If you want to take things a step further, lampshades will elevate any rental aesthetic. They take only a few seconds to put up or take down when it is time to move out.
Finally, dotting a few lamps around a room will do wonders to draw the eye away from a bare bulb while also dialling up the cosiness factor of any space, helping it to feel more homely, and most importantly, more personal.
The unfortunate reality of renting is that major features of a house, such as the carpet, are often worn out and usually the furthest possible thing from what you would choose for yourself. This can have a major impact on how much the property feels like your home.
Luckily though, a fantastic, affordable, and (most importantly) portable solution exists: rugs! Whether you go large or small, square or circle, the addition of a rug or two can do wonders to cover up carpet that’s dragging down the feel of the home.
As with lamps, rugs will ramp up the cosiness factor of a room while giving you the option to experiment with texture, colour and pattern all at the same time, allowing you to create a more interesting and cohesive property that will truly feel like your own.
Remember that, in the end, your Property Manager and your landlord want you to be comfortable in your home. While you may not own it and do have certain restrictions around how you can personalise it, in the end, the happier you are, the better it is for everyone.
As part of this, if your Property Manager uses a platform like PropertyMe, they can offer you a personal Tenant App that gives you everything right at your fingertips so you can enjoy your home with ease.
Speaking of which…
Simplify your tenancy with PropertyMe’s Tenant App
With PropertyMe’s mobile app for tenants, renting just got easier. View upcoming rent payments and inspection dates, submit a maintenance request, or even chat directly with your Property Manager – it’s all there on your phone.