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Easy Improvements for Renters That Don’t Break Your Lease

Easy Improvements for Renters That Don't Break Your Lease

Everyone wants to have their house feel like a home, including renters. However, moving into a rental means making large-scale permanent changes are not always a possibility. Thankfully, modern materials and a little ingenuity allow renters to personalize spaces with little effort. Continue along with us below as we discuss easy improvements for renters and when to seek landlord approval for improvements.

10 Easy Improvements for Renters on a Budget

Rental improvements and upgrades do not need to be permanent or expensive. Nowadays, online retailers and home improvement stores have various resources that help tenants cost-effectively customize their space.

10 Easy Improvements for Renters on a Budget

So, check out these top 10 easy improvements for renters below –

  1. Spruce Up Boring Walls
  2. Let There be Light
  3. Try an Appliance Facelift
  4. Shower in Luxury
  5. Go Eclectic with Floor Coverings
  6. Say Goodbye to Boring Blinds
  7. Mirror Mirror on the Wall
  8. Bring the Outdoors In
  9. Add a Removable Backsplash
  10. Disguise an Ugly Countertop

Spruce Up Boring Walls

When the sight of white walls bores you to tears, adding a pop of color or texture may be just what you need. Removable wallpaper is a great option for those unwilling or unable to commit to painting. It comes in a variety of colors and styles that works similar to contact paper. The light adhesive goes on and comes off easy for damage-free removal, perfect for rentals.

Let There be LightLet There be Light

Not every room benefits from natural light, so renters run the risk of encountering outdated light fixtures. Typically, light fixtures are simple to switch out, and the landlord may allow renters to change out old fixtures, but it is important to ask first. That said, layering light sources in a room creates a welcoming mood without messing with existing light sources. Try strategically positioning lamps at varying heights or adding a battery-operated wall sconce to add ambiance to an otherwise drab space.

Try an Appliance Facelift

In a rental, landlords may not be in a hurry to replace dated but still fully functional appliances. That said, tenants can quickly spruce up the look of these dated appliances with adhesive film. For a little money and minima effort, that old white refrigerator can have new life thanks to the stainless steel contact paper. Feeling bold? Try a fun color or pattern to liven up any kitchen with a dose of personal style. Then, when it is time to move out, the materials are easily removed.

Shower in Luxury

Bathrooms do not have to be just a necessity; they can also be an oasis. Surprisingly, something as simple as swapping out the showerhead is another example of easy improvements for renters.  Creating a spa experience is easily attainable with s few DIY steps and a modest investment. Follow the steps below and consider a helpful YouTube tutorial –

  • Turn off the main water valve.
  • Unscrew the old showerhead and save it to be reinstalled at move out
  • Apply some Teflon tape to the threads
  • Screw on the new showerhead
  • Turn the main water valve back on

Go Eclectic with Floor CoveringsGo Eclectic with Floor Coverings

If renters are lucky enough to find a unit with hardwood flooring, covering those floors is likely a lease condition. That said, no matter what type of floor the rental has, adding a dose of personal aesthetic with rugs can liven up any room. Furthermore, do not be afraid to mix and match smaller rugs to cover a large or oddly shaped space.

Say Goodbye to Boring Blinds

Blinds provide privacy and security to any rental, but let’s face it, they are boring. So, add a patterned curtain, sheer overlay, or vallance to soften the look of your living spaces. Window treatments create a cohesive look and express a renter’s personal style. Additionally, curtains help block light and can aid in keeping the unit cool in the summer. Generally, hanging a lightweight curtain rod requires only a few screws that can be easily repaired at move-out. Depending on the window, frame, tension rods offer a damage-free option for a reasonable cost.

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

How can a renter open up a small or awkward space? Mirrors! Hanging a large mirror creates the visual effect of a larger and more open area. Additionally, mirrors reflect light and make a room seem brighter without knocking down any walls. For greater visual interest, try hanging a few vintage mirrors clustered together.

Bring the Outdoors In

Bring the Outdoors InWhen an apartment lacks outdoor space, or you want to add some visual interest and texture, try houseplants. Bring the outdoors in as one of the easy improvements for renters that takes little effort. That said, not every plant is ideal for growing potted or inside. So, for the best results, consider some of the options below –

  • Pothos Trailing Vine
  • Aglaonema Chinese Evergreen
  • Asparagus Fern
  • Chinese Money Plant
  • Rubber Plant
  • Ponytail Palm

Add a Removable Backsplash

The kitchen is an area bursting with the opportunity to implement easy improvements for renters. Therefore, if the kitchen lacks some pizazz, try adding a removable backsplash. These backsplashes offer to look of tile, marble, or even stone without the commitment or expense. Additionally, these options are available through online retailers or most large hardware stores.

Disguise an Ugly Countertop

As a tenant, patterned heavy-duty contact paper is your best friend when it comes to easy improvements for renters. Covering dated countertops with a removable material serves a couple of purposes. Not only does it effortlessly update the look, but it also protects the counters from stains, scratches, and added wear and tear.

Lease Clauses for Renter Improvements

It is important that before diving into any of the easy improvements for renters above that tenants understand what is and is not allowed per the landlord. In most cases, the issues of “improvements” or “modifications” are addressed in the lease agreement.

Lease Clauses for Renter Improvements

Generally speaking, renters should expect to remove any superficial changes made to the unit before moving out. Additionally, renters must repair any damage caused due to changes they may make to the unit. The goal is to return the unit in the condition it was found. This is another reason why easy improvements for renters that are removable are ideal.

If more permanent changes are made with the landlord’s permission, most leases state that those improvements belong to the landlord upon move out. So, be sure to read the lease carefully and discuss with the landlord if you are unsure what is and is not allowed. When it comes to renters making improvements, the rule of thumb is it is better to ask permission than ask for forgiveness. So, check with the landlord and obtain written permission before making any improvements.

Lease Clauses for Renter Improvements

How a landlord reacts to renter improvements significantly depends on what changes were made. Keep in mind that even if the unauthorized improvement truly was an improvement, allowing this sets a bad precedent.  That said, if you are a landlord dealing with this situation, there are a few general actions below –

Send Written Notice

The first step to addressing renter changes to the rental property is to send a notice. The purpose of this notice is to inform the tenant that the landlord is aware of the changes made and that the changes were not authorized. Additionally, it is vital to address the following –

  • Warn the tenants that by making alterations, they have violated the lease agreement’s terms and include the specific verbiage from the lease.
  • Inform the tenants that they should not continue with any more unauthorized changes or improvements.
  • Explain the process of asking for permission and relay the desired contact information.
  • Outline the consequences of the current changes as well as any future unauthorized actions. This includes the cost to restore the property to its original state up to possible eviction.
  • Keep a copy of the written notice in the tenant’s file in case further action is necessary.

Withholding the Deposit

If the unauthorized changes cause damage to the unit, the landlord may withhold all or part of the security deposit to recover damages. That said, landlords need to document the damage via photos and receipts for restoration fully.


If the tenant refuses to adhere to the terms of the lease, ignores written warnings, or has significantly damaged the property’s value, an eviction might be the answer. While pursuing eviction should never be the first step, it can be necessary when the rental unit’s profitability is at stake. So, be sure to document all unauthorized changes and retain copies of all communication with the tenant to help build a case through the court.

Lease Clauses for Renter ImprovementsNeed Help Managing Tenants?

Whether you are a tenant looking for a new place to call home or an owner struggling to find common ground with your tenant, Bay Property Management Group can help. Our offices serve areas throughout Southern Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington DC, and Northern Virginia.

Thanks to our experienced staff and thorough rental agreement, landlords can rest assured that their investment property and best interests are being looked after. The knowledgeable property managers at BMG put customer service first and bridge the gap between landlords and tenants, so everyone wins. Give us a call today to find out more!