What's A Renter To Do?

By Sharon Naylor

June 25, 2010 5 min read

When you're planning to move into a rented apartment or house, you might have dreamy images of all the fabulous interior decorating projects that would make your new home ultra-stylish. You've seen tons of segments on "Color Splash" and "Design on a Dime," and you can't wait to work your magic on the walls, floors, bathroom and kitchen of the place you're about to call home. But wait just a minute; you might not be allowed to paint or tile or redecorate your rented place -- at least not without permission. When you sign a rental agreement for an apartment or a house, there is usually very detailed language about what you can and can't do to the property. After all, someone else owns it. You're just the renter. But if you'd like to add some personal touches to your new place, you can find ways to work some decorating magic. Here are the guidelines to follow so that you don't find yourself in trouble with the owner and forfeiting your security deposit.*Painting "When it comes to painting apartments to suit your d?cor, always check your lease," says Ron Leshnower, the guide to apartment living/rental on About.com. "Many leases require tenants to get their landlords' consent to paint their apartments. If that's the case, be sure to get this consent in writing to prevent problems later. For instance, you don't want your landlord to withhold money from your security deposit for painting because he claims you never got permission to paint. You can draft the consent letter yourself for your landlord's signature if you think it will speed things along. If a company (as opposed to an individual landlord) owns your building, get consent from someone at the company who is authorized to give it. Make sure that person's role at the company is clear under her signature or on the stationery." Once you have permission to paint, ask questions about the colors you may use and whether you will be required to paint those walls back to their original color. "If you want to paint at least some of your walls a color other than white or off-white, be prepared to agree to repaint the walls back to a neutral color before you move out," Leshnower says. The landlord or homeowner may ask to see a color swatch of the hue you have in mind, and he or she might agree that your paint job is a likable improvement to the property. You might be granted permission to paint as you wish, without needing to paint over it before you leave. Don't expect the owner to pay for the paint, though. Some may offer to share costs, but that isn't the norm. If you will be required to paint your walls white before you depart, keep in mind that it can be a painstaking and time-consuming process to fully cover lipstick-red walls with white paint, even with the best of primers. A lighter shade of paint may be a better choice.*Easy Upgrades "You can easily change your apartment's light switch plates and outlet covers to ones that you find more aesthetically appealing," Leshnower says. "It's usually just a matter of replacing two screws. Switch plates and outlet covers come in a wide range of colors, patterns and materials and aren't expensive. If you do this, keep the apartment's original switch plates and outlet covers in a box so you can replace them before you move out." If you wish to hang paintings and other wall hangings, use hook and nail combinations that are easy to remove, and spackle over the holes before you depart. The same rules apply if you'll hang window treatments over the windows. All holes you drill need to be filled in and smoothed before you go. For lightweight wall hangings, consider adhesive strip alternatives that cause no damage, e.g., those from 3M. You're stuck with kitchen countertops and cabinet finishes, but you can replace aged or broken door handles and drawer pulls with inexpensive new ones from the home decorating store; again, keep the old ones and their screws in a box. Cleaning may bring out a refreshed look in your rented home. Elbow grease can scrub out the grime and discoloration of kitchen floor vinyl tiles, and a fresh application of grout around the bathtub and shower can make a dated bathroom look newer. You can give your bathroom a makeover with matching towels and a bathmat plus a few well-chosen d?cor accents. And interior designers say the best way to add color to a living room is to set out throw pillows to coordinate with colorful area rugs. When you move out, your d?cor items go with you, and you get to collect your security deposit in full.COPYRIGHT 2010 CREATORS.COM

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