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Apartment Living

What You Should and Should Not Do When Renting

What You Should and Should Not Do When Renting

Choosing to live in a rental property offers a lot of freedom from repairs and maintenance. Typically, tenants are not responsible for tasks like cutting the grass and fixing plumbing problems. Perhaps that’s why more than 111 million Americans have chosen renting over home ownership, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council.

Renting provides convenience and independence, but there are limits to what you can do in a rental property. While specifics may vary from landlord to landlord, these are some of the general do’s and don’ts of renting a property.

Don’t go paint crazy

Be sure to get permission before taking on any painting projects. Image: CreativeStudio/Getty Images

“Tenants like to say, ‘I’m leaving the place better than I got it,’ and some tenants might think that blood-red accent wall they painted is much better,” says Diana Valin, CPM, owner/broker at The Rental Xperts in San Diego, CA.

However, Valin tells Freshome that this is rarely the case – at least, not from the owner’s perspective – unless the parties collaborated in advance. “The best rule of thumb for tenants wanting to change things up during their time in residence is to ask for permission – and get it in writing.”

Kristie Aylett, of Ocean Springs, MS, shared a “Tenants Gone Wild” anecdote with Freshome regarding one of her friends who is a landlord. The friend’s renter asked for permission to paint the rental unit and was told “no” . . . which the average person would interpret to mean that this is not permissible. “However, the renter then spray painted the kitchen wood cabinets and the countertops.” Yikes!

However, you can paint your furniture and personal items. In fact, you’d be surprised what you can do with a can of spray paint.

Don’t let your green thumb go wild

Customizing landscaping elements may lead to problems with your landlord. Image: Sebastian Arning/EyeEm/Getty Images

“Sometimes, a tenant thinks the conversion of your thoughtfully-laid-out landscape design into a vegetable garden is a much better use of space,” Valin says. In fact, Aylett says her landlord friend actually had a situation along these lines. “The renter wanted to be reimbursed – or at least thanked – for building a tree fort in the backyard but didn’t realize the increased liability and insurance costs it presented to the homeowners.”

However, you can grow a few plants (of the legal kind) in your unit.

Valin adds: “We want [renters] to feel they can make the property their home, but if they want to customize anything during their tenancy, communicating what they want to do and getting written authorization to do it ahead of time is the key to staying out of trouble in the end.”

Don’t make major renovations

Consult with your landlord before major changes. Image: Hero Image/Getty Images

Valin says your rental agreement should also stipulate how improvements will be handled at move-out. “The owner that didn’t know you added ceiling fans in all of the bedrooms may be thrilled to find out that you improved his/her property but won’t necessarily want to reimburse you for the installation costs and purchase costs of the fans at move-out,” she warns. If you decide to take your fans with you at move-out, you’ll be responsible for patching/texturizing and re-painting the ceilings.

Changing out your cabinet hardware is one way to customize and improve your kitchen and bathroom. However, be sure to check with your landlord first.

Don’t use a hammer for all of your projects

Consider decorating ideas that won’t damage the walls. Image: chuckcollier/Getty Images

Most landlords will let you hang a few pictures, and you can hang curtains on decorative rods. Aside from that, it’s important to carefully consider any decorating idea that involves the use of a hammer. In other words, scratch those thoughts about mounting cabinets in the bathroom, or adding architectural detail with wainscoting.

That’s not to say you can’t decorate in other ways. For example, if you have black or white appliances, you can easily update them. Consider applying stainless steel appliance covers to the dishwasher and refrigerator. These covers come in peel-and-stick or magnetic varieties and can instantly update and transform the space.

Do help to maintain the property

Maintaining the property requires some effort on your part. Image: Westend61/Getty Images

Your landlord is responsible for repairs, but you, as the tenant, are responsible for informing management when there’s something amiss in your unit. Whether it’s a leaky faucet or a broken stove knob, you need to report these problems as soon as possible. If a small problem becomes a large problem and it’s deemed a result of your negligence – for example, if your unit has hardwood floors in the kitchen, you let a leaking dishwasher ruin them – you may be responsible for the repairs.

As far as household pests go, your landlord is responsible for pest control; nevertheless, you are accountable for keeping your unit clean so you won’t attract pests.

Do purchase renters insurance

Renter’s insurance protects your valuables. Image: Asbe/Getty Images

In the event of theft, fire, flood, etc., the landlord is responsible for the unit itself. However, you are responsible for your personal items, such as your furniture, clothes and electronic equipment. Also, if someone is injured in your apartment, you might be liable for medical and legal bills. Renters insurance is a wise investment because it protects you against these unforeseen circumstances – which is why it’s often required by your landlord.

What other do’s and don’ts of renting have you discovered? Please let us know in the comments.

Published at Thu, 21 Feb 2019 18:00:53 +0000

Moving In: When You and Your Partner’s Tastes Don’t Match, Start Here

If you were asked to list all the reasons why your partner is perfect for you, the result would probably be a fairly lengthy tabulation. That doesn’t mean your style preferences are going to align perfectly, though. Even your ideal partner might not have the same ideal living situation as you. But you both deserve to live in a space you love. So what do you do? Whether you’re moving in together for the first time or are finally ready to make some design compromises, we have some tips and tricks.

We polled our Freshome team to identify some different tactics you can both use. Our goal is to make it easier to design a space you both like even when your tastes don’t match. Here are our top four recommendations.

Opting for furniture with clean lines in neutral colors means you’ll choose timeless pieces – and pieces your partner is more likely to like. Image: Maginnis/Twenty20

Choose clean lines.

Look for pieces that come in natural materials, which are generally crowd pleasers, with clean lines. Clean lines don’t have to mean choosing something boring. They just mean you’re picking a piece that can integrate with a variety of different tastes. You’ll be doing yourself a favor, actually. These types of pieces have serious staying power. The Yukon Natural Coffee Table from Crate & Barrel is a prime example.

No matter how you and your partner’s tastes change through the years, furniture with clean lines will always be easy to integrate. Think similarly for your dining table, bookshelves and other furniture. You’ll be more likely to choose pieces both you and your partner will like, not just today but for years to come.

Another way to keep your space looking clean and appealing to people of varying tastes is to opt for mirrors as your artwork. When you and your partner have different tastes, choosing art can be a powderkeg. Mirrors are a great way to add visual interest to your space without having to feud over design. Plus, they’ll brighten up any room, making it feel larger.

A leather couch – like the Hamilton Leather Sofa – can serve as a neutral foundation, anchoring the room and balancing even the most eclectic tastes. Image: West Elm

Go neutral.

What a surprise. When you’re trying to choose pieces that will please people of different tastes, neutrals are best. Now, before you assume we’re telling you to whitewash your space and create something so conventional everyone’s grandma will love it, wait. Yes, neutrals are a great solution when trying to blend different tastes. But they don’t have to be boring. You can choose a neutral duvet, then layer on pillows and throws you like. It’s a whole lot easier to find smaller accent pieces both you and your partner will like. By going neutral for the larger, investment pieces, you set yourselves up with a foundation on which you can build.

If you’re moving in and looking for your first couch, remember that leather is a neutral. And, thanks to the sumptuous texture of this material, it can still be high-impact. A streamlined leather couch like the Hamilton Leather Sofa from West Elm can anchor your living space with a piece both of you like.

When it comes to your textiles, go neutral, too. Upon moving in, you might discover that color is divisive for you and your partner. You still want to give your space some visual interest, though, so look for texture. This Foil Diamonds Rug, also from West Elm, comes in a crowd-pleasing color but the varying depth of pile keeps it from looking too boring or conventional. The Fieldcrest Basketweave Linen Shower Curtain at Target relies on the texture of the weave, not the color, for its visual interest.

Lay your foundation with the classics – like hardwood floors and neutral walls – then add accent pieces to suit you and your partner’s tastes. Image: Oscar Wong/Getty Images

Follow the popular vote.

Whether you’re moving in together or have lived together for decades and are thinking about a reno, choosing fixtures and finishes can be a nightmare if your tastes don’t match. Fortunately, you have what’s popular to guide you. Choosing what most people love it not just a great way to end the debate and settle on something (finally!). It also boosts the mass appeal of your home. Not only does that mean more of your friends are likely to like it, but it also means greater resale value when you list your home.

Go to the stalwarts of good design like hardwood floors and stainless steel appliances. When you and your partner can’t agree on the bulk of your home design, popular taste can guide you. Again, as with neutrals, you can follow this guide for the foundational aspects of your home. Then, add accents that are easy to change out (and easier to agree on) to add your own personal flair.

Moody paint and airy light fixtures can live together in harmony if you give them space to play together. Image: Caiaimage/Robert Daly/Getty Images

Make space.

Compromise. If one of you chooses the coffee table, let the other choose the coffee table decor. And don’t do it begrudgingly, either. You might be surprised what you come to love as pieces gain sentimental value over time.

Speaking of those sentimental pieces, be open to creating room for them in your home. If both of you are the type to treasure items, pick out a few that you really love and want to feature prominently in your home. Put them all in one place and look at them as a grouping.

What do they have in common? Where can they best be used? Creating a cozy reading nook with grandma’s old chair could serve both of you. Making a display area on a bookshelf where you can put together an eclectic collection of things that speak to you – both together and separately – can create a conversation starter in your living area. Before you assume you hate everything your partner would pick for your house, be open. Finding that middle ground can create harmony in your home – and in your home design.

What are your tips and tricks for finding that sweet spot where both partners are happy with the way the house or apartment looks? Did you make any discoveries upon moving in together that you wish you’d known before? Share with us in the comments!

Published at Thu, 14 Feb 2019 21:02:37 +0000