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Do’s & Don’ts of Decorating Rental Properties for Tenants to Consider


Most people want to live in an environment they enjoy and feel comfortable in. Sometimes, that includes putting up decorations, painting, and adding furniture to make the space feel like your own. However, it can be tricky to do this in a rental property owned by someone else. That said, it inevitably poses a few questions for renters. So, keep reading while we attempt to answer the most common questions tenants have when decorating rental properties. 

Can You Decorate Your Rental Property? 

When they move into a rental property for the first time, most renters have a question: Can I decorate my rental property? Unfortunately, the answer is a bit more complicated than a simple yes or no. It can be very situational, depending on your landlord and the rules set in your rental contract. 

After all, your rental property doesn’t belong to you, so you can’t exactly change or renovate it in any way that you want. So, for example, you probably can’t change or install permanent fixtures, change the exterior of the home, drill a ton of holes in the walls, replace the flooring, or put up wallpaper. 

However, with your landlord’s permission, there are some simple things you can do to make the rental feel more like your home. For example, you can put up paintings or other decor items, switch out some lighting fixtures, and add decorative furniture. But, of course, now, there’s always the lingering question of “will you get your security deposit back if you decorate your rental?” Keep reading to find out. 

Will You Get Your Security Deposit Back if You Decorate Your Rental? 

Every tenant hopes to get their security deposit back at the end of their lease term. However, a few things get in the way of receiving a full deposit back. After all, decorating is why some people don’t receive their full rental deposit after they move out. 

Do's & Don'ts of Decorating Rental Properties for Tenants to Consider

So, what causes renters to have their security deposit withheld by their landlord? Well, several decor items and techniques will determine how much you get back. If you cause significant damage when you decorate your rental, you likely won’t get your entire deposit back at the end of your lease. 

However, if you decorate lightly and take extra precautions when hanging things on the walls, you may get your security deposit back. As long as you don’t create large holes in the walls, or any irreversible damages, most tenants can decorate as they please without worrying about getting their deposit back. 

If you are a new renter and want to learn how to decorate your rental property without repercussions, here are some tips we came up with.

Tips to Keep in Mind When Decorating Rental Properties

Decorating rental properties is very dependent on the landlord and lease conditions. If you’re unsure how you can make your rental feel more like home, consider these decorating tips:

  • Get Permission From Your Landlord
  • Buy Furniture You Like
  • Purchase Area Rugs
  • Hang Pictures Without Using Nails
  • Add House Plants
  • Consider Additional Lighting

Get Permission From Your Landlord

If it’s not clear what changes you can make to the property in your rental lease, you must get permission from your landlord before you proceed. That said, every landlord and every rental is different. So, just because you could paint the walls in your last apartment doesn’t mean you’ll be able to in your new rental. The best rule of thumb for tenants to consider before decorating rental properties is to get permission from the landlord.

Buy Furniture You Like

If your landlord doesn’t want you to change up the home’s interior and you’re unsure what you can do to make it feel more like home, you can always add your own furniture. Most rentals come unfurnished, leaving it up to the tenants to buy whatever furniture they please. This is a great way to add pops of color without damaging the walls, cabinets, or flooring. 

Do's & Don'ts of Decorating Rental Properties for Tenants to Consider

Purchase Area Rugs 

If you don’t like your flooring, chances are there’s not much you can do to change it. However, one thing you can do to customize it to your liking is add area rugs. Area rugs come in many shapes, sizes, colors, and patterns, so tenants can customize their space using whatever designs they like. Similarly, you can add area rugs to almost any room in the house. So regardless of whether there is carpet or hardwood flooring, area rugs are an excellent addition to any room. 

Hang Pictures Without Using Nails

Hanging up artwork, pictures, paintings, and other wall decor is one of the easiest ways to customize your space in a rental home. However, hanging these items up with nails or screws can create divots in the walls or even tear off some paint or drywall. Unfortunately, many renters may have a small portion of their security deposit withheld if there are damages to the walls. 

Luckily, more advanced technology these days allows renters to hang their memories and artwork without using nails. Command Strips by 3M will enable tenants to hang pictures and other wall decorations using a removable adhesive strip that is placed on the wall. 

Add House Plants 

Low-maintenance house plants are an effortless way to make your rental space look more welcoming and inviting. Additionally, house plants give a sense of greenery that helps boost your mood and improve indoor air quality. So, if you’re at a loss for what you can do to customize your rental home, consider adding some nice-looking house plants, flowers, or succulents to your living space. 

Consider Additional Lighting

Most landlords typically won’t allow you to remove the current lighting fixtures or install new ones without permission. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t add your lighting to make your rental home feel most cozy. For example, if you don’t like using the ceiling lights that come with the rental, you can always buy floor lamps or tableside lamps. 

Similarly, it’s popular these days to hang Christmas lights or LED strip lights along the walls during any season. Just remember that if you hang lights from the walls or ceilings, you should make sure there’s no damage. 

What to Avoid When Decorating Rental Properties

Now that we’ve gone over a few considerations for renters to keep in mind when decorating rental properties, you may be wondering what you can’t do in this situation. Keep reading as we go over some things you should avoid when decorating your rental.  

  • Don’t Paint Without Permission
  • Avoid Major Changes or Renovations
  • Don’t Install Permanent Fixtures

Do's & Don'ts of Decorating Rental Properties for Tenants to Consider

Don’t Paint Without Permission

As stated above, it’s best to get permission from your landlord before you make any changes to the property. Painting the rental unit without asking could cost you your entire security deposit. Additionally, it could cause you to be on bad terms with your landlord. A general rule for tenants is to ask if you aren’t sure what changes you can make to your rental home. 

Avoid Major Changes or Renovations

Most landlords are not expecting tenants to make significant changes or renovations to their rental units. However, landlords should complete any necessary renovations before a renter moves into the property. Talk to your landlord first if you think that something needs to be changed or repaired to live there. 

Don’t Install Permanent Fixtures

Installing permanent fixtures is another thing tenants should avoid in a rental home. Unless you get prior permission from your landlord, anything that you bring into a rental home should be removed when you leave. If this includes permanent fixtures, you may be damaging the rental if you try to remove them. For example, if you install a ceiling fan and don’t ask permission first, your landlord may charge you for damages. 

Do's & Don'ts of Decorating Rental Properties for Tenants to Consider

Talk With Your Landlord About Decorating Rental Properties

All in all, the biggest takeaway for renters is to always look in your lease agreement before decorating rental properties. Additionally, talk to your landlord if you’re unsure what you can do to make the place feel more like home.

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