10 Changes You Can Legally Make to a Rented Apartment

When you rent an apartment, you may think that you can’t make it completely your home due to the many stipulations that come with renting from someone else. When you don’t own a property, there are limits to what you can do to a place, but there are also some things you can do to make it feel more safe, as well as a bit homier for the time you live there. In order to make big changes to an apartment, you would need the landlord’s approval without incurring legal issues, but there are things you can do legally, although you will probably still want to discuss them first, with the landlord so they are aware of the modifications. Here is a list of 10 changes you can legally make to a rented apartment.

1. Install a security system

Although a lot of rentals and apartments have some sort of security system installed, not all do and this is something that many people prefer to have in their homes to protect them and their belongings. Some apartments may charge a higher rental fee if they come with a security system already installed, which may not be in your budget, however, if you feel strongly about having a security system, most apartments will allow you to install one, but you may have certain types that are allowed. Landlords do want their tenants to feel safe in their rental property, so most will not have a problem with working with you upgrading your apartment by adding one.

2. Change carpet in one or more rooms

Apartments will often show some wear and tear due to the number of tenant turnovers they go through, especially because not everyone is as neat and clean, or easy on their property as others. It would be nice to walk into an apartment and see brand new paint, carpet and other elements that are just waiting for you when you moved in, however, not all landlords have the money to change out all the carpets in each property after a move-out, but will typically at least have them cleaned. If you move in to an apartment and feel like you need new carpet in a room or two due to damage or perhaps you just want to upgrade to a different type and look, typically this is one change you can legally make without repercussion. Of course you will want to talk to your landlord first and let them know your plans so you are on the same page and they are not surprised when they walk into your apartment during your lease time.

3. Change door locks

Security means different things to different people. While one person may feel secure with the type of doorknob that’s already installed on a unit, someone else may not feel comfortable with the way it latches or locks. Door locks are something that can be changed by a tenant if he prefers to, and discussing it with the landlord ahead of time is the best way to start the process. They may have one they recommend, or they may let you choose the door lock you want, and it will depend from one landlord to the next.

4. Change out appliances

Most apartment complexes try to get the most out of all their appliances, and rightly so, they’re expensive. Appliances will vary from apartment-to-apartment, and the more you pay for rent, typically the greater the chances are you will have very nice, and possibly even top-of-the-line appliances already installed in each unit. If older appliances or you have a desire to upgrade what’s already there, this can be an option for renters that most landlords won’t object to.

5. Paint cabinets in the kitchen or bath

Putting your personal touch in an apartment isn’t always easy when it comes to decorating with paint and wallpaper, but adding a little personal touch to give your apartment a little personal flair can be as simple as adding a little color to your cabinets in your kitchen or bathroom. You can talk to your landlord about these options because this is typically a change you can make that won’t be a problem for most.

6. Change light fixtures

Lighting is an element that you can use as a way of expressing your personal style and taste, but in an apartment, lighting isn’t always the most up-to-date style, or even the prettiest choices out there. Maybe you’d like something a little more modern over your dinette, or something a little less plain-Jane in your bathroom. If you want to change out your lighting, this particular change is one that can add some personality to your rental unit and typically won’t be an issue with your complex or landlord.

7. Paint a wall

Most apartments keep a pretty simple color scheme in their units so that anyone’s furniture and decor elements will go easily with it. Others may have some painted walls, but the color choices may not be to your liking. Either way, you might find the need to paint a wall or two to give it your own touch, or simply just add a bit of color to brighten the space up. As a tenant, typically you are allowed to paint a wall or two without any backlash, though some rentals may require you repaint the walls back to their original color upon moving out.

8. Switch out a door

Depending on what type of apartment you are living in and what condition everything is in, for instance, the doors, you may want to switch out a door on the inside, perhaps a door leading to a bedroom, a living space, or even a patio. If you want to change out a door for any reason, especially if it isn’t in the nicest condition, most landlords can be agreeable to the idea, but they may have certain stipulations with the type of door you choose.

9. Replace flooring

Are you allergic to carpet fibers or have pets where tile would be better in a particular room? It may be possible to do a little floor changing in your apartment. Many apartment complexes will welcome the idea of a flooring upgrade so if you prefer a laminate wood floor or tile in the kitchen as opposed to vinyl, talk to the landlord and go over your options for what is acceptable to the leasing company.

10. Add to the landscape

Not all apartments are set up where you have direct access to a little yard that is yours, or a patio that is directly off your unit, but for those who do, it can make you feel a little bit more like your own place if you are able to add a little of your own landscaping ideas to the area. A patio can be a nice place to add potted plants or climbing plants on a trellis that you set up against a wall. Creating a little space of greenery can really brighten your living area up for when you leave your apartment, come home, or spend a little time on your patio just enjoying your surroundings. Ask your landlord what landscaping ideas are acceptable, then give your green thumb something creative to do.


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