It’s not easy making a rented home your own, because there are strict limits on what you can change.
Always ask for permission first – preferably in writing and signed by both parties. Your landlord has to approve the colour and quality or you may have to restore the space to its original colour when you leave. That’s an extra expense and your landlord won’t happily accept a cheaper paint. REMEMBER Bright, bold colours will have to be repainted so neutrals are often a safer option.
You can certainly install your own light fixtures and lampshades without permission, as long as you replace the originals in the same condition when you leave. Store them carefully to prevent breakage, otherwise you’ll be footing the bill.
Properties are generally let as is, unless the lease stipulates that the landlord will install specific security mechanisms. If you want to make changes later, you’ll probably have to foot the bill yourself, provided your landlord agrees. So check the place carefully before signing your lease – you can even ask a local security company to carry out the inspection and provide you with a report for your landlord. but do note that your landlord is under no obligation to approve the changes you recommend.
The lease may stipulate that no smoking is allowed, although this is difficult to enforce. Cigarette smoke seeps into carpets and even discolours walls. When the lease expires, this could be considered ‘damage’ for which you may be held responsible – particularly if the lease contains a no-smoking clause.
Pelmets or curtain rods
You can replace old-fashioned pelmets with modern curtain rods, with permission. But before signing the lease, negotiate for whose expense this will be. And if you’re paying, check whether you can take them with you when you leave.
A good relationship
Tenants should understand a landlord’s rights and vice versa. Before you sign a lease, carefully study the rules, your obligations and your rights. If you want something more, by all means negotiate, but remember that the owner has the right to say no. Dexter says most homeowners are reasonable, but relationships often deteriorate when a tenant tries to renegotiate specific clauses after a lease has been signed. If the owner doesn’t agree to extra expenditure (which is his or her contractual right) the tenant becomes upset. But the problem often lies with how the request is phrased and how reasonable it is – and naturally, Dexter says, that’s subjective.
The same rules apply as for other improvements. Most leases don’t permit changes to the garden, so obtain written approval for any improvements you make.
Extra plug points
Reach an agreement before you move in, or you’ll be footing the bill personally. Get written consent and appoint a qualified electrician to do the job.
If you’re planning on installing a dishwasher, it’s best to reach an agreement before signing the lease, so you know who will be carrying these plumbing costs.
- You don’t need permission for these smart solutions:
- Cover unsightly floors with rugs that you can take with you when you move. You’ll find attractive designs at @homelivingspace, Weylandts and Furniture City.
- Containers are an easy way to garden – and will accommodate everything from fruit trees and vegetables to accent plants that can accompany you to your next home.
- Short of storage space? Freestanding cupboards are the ideal solution and can be sold or taken along when you move. Try Peter Osborne, Biggie Best or even secondhand stores for great buys.
- Freestanding standard lamps and table lamps are temporary fittings that help to create a wonderful atmosphere.
- Homeowners may introduce rules regarding pets to which you’ll have to conform – check this beforehand.