How to Decorate Your Rental Property

Personal touches are what makes a home feel like home; a lick of paint here, a picture hung up there.

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But what happens if you’re renting? Rental properties can lack personality, but if you’re tempted to give yours a makeover it’s important to remember that some landlords have tough rules on how you decorate your rental property. Breaking these could affect how much of your security deposit you’ll get back.

Ask your landlord if you can decorate the property

The easy way to find out how much home decoration you can get away with is to ask your landlord or letting agent. They’re within their rights to forbid any decoration, but if they do agree, they might even offer to pay for the materials since it’s considered good practice for a landlord to redecorate every three years. Just make sure you get their permission in writing, to protect you if they change their mind at a later date.

A possible bargaining chip is offering to return the house to a neutral colour before you leave, which not only makes your changes temporary but also offers freshly painted walls to whoever may be coming in next.

It’s unlikely that your landlord will agree to huge changes, like replacing the kitchen cabinets. But if they do, you should consider if it’s worth your while; if you’re not living there in the long term, you’ll essentially be paying for someone else’s home improvements. Smaller changes you can make to brighten up your home include hanging paintings and buying vibrant cushions and rugs to drape over drab furniture.

Painting and decorating your rental property

If your landlord gives you the decoration go-ahead, changing up the colour scheme is a good way to make your place feel more homely. That said, it’s a good idea to avoid overly vibrant or dark colours, as these can be hard to paint over when the time comes to move out. If you’re set on vibrant walls, wallpaper is the best option but will require effort; you’ll have to take it down and repaint or re-paper when you leave.

A living room with a grey sofa in it

Furniture and shelving in your rental property

Unfurnished flats mean you can really make the space your own; buying armchairs, sofas, and drawers and making the most of the space you have can help establish your vibe, whether it’s sleek minimalism or shabby chic. If there are no carpets, then a colourful rug can add a homely touch and keep your feet warm in winter. It’ll be cheaper than putting in a carpet, and you’ll be able to take it with you when you move home.

You might also want to build wall storage – perhaps to store photos, or a bookcase to avoid the growing “to-read” pile next to your bed – but you’ll have to check with your landlord as you may be charged for any holes drilled into the wall. If the landlord says no, you can always buy freestanding shelves.

Furnished flats offer less room for creative flair, but that’s not to say you can’t add your own touches; house plants or a windowsill herb garden and pictures on the wall will help your rental feel like home. Again, it’s worth asking your landlord before you hang anything on the wall; if you can’t drill, sticky back picture hooks are a good alternative.

Understanding the decorating terms in your Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST)

Your AST contract, or tenancy agreement, outlines what you, as the tenant, can and can’t do. If you want to redecorate, you should check the contract for any relevant clauses on home decoration. If you break any of the conditions, you risk losing part of your security deposit; in this case, the landlord can deduct money to compensate for any work needed to restore the property to the condition it was in when you arrived.

If in doubt, it’s always a good idea to ask your landlord whether a certain type of redecoration is allowed. Although some landlords are less lenient than others, and may not let you repaint the walls or hang up paintings, there are still small but significant things you can do to brighten up your rental property and make it feel like home.

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