Those who live in a rental apartment are usually quite limited in the amount of decorating they are able to do. This can have the impact of making a rental apartment not quite feel like a real home. In many cases, the rental apartment is painted either white, off-white, and more recently more grey tones, and residents often feel as though this color is somewhat impersonal but are not able to repaint the walls to a more appealing color. This is just one example of the decorating restrictions which may be placed on an individual renting an apartment. There may be other restrictions, and reading the contract carefully will help the renter to determine what is allowed and what is not allowed.
Review the Contract Carefully
Renters who are living in an apartment should review their contract documents carefully before they begin decorating their apartment. This is important because there may be some common decorating items such as painting or installation of shelving which may not be allowed by the contract documents. Decorating in any manner which is strictly prohibited may result in harsh penalties. These penalties might involve the assessment of fees at the conclusion of the rental period or possibly even eviction.
Most standard decorating items such as hanging pictures are usually acceptable but some particularly strict policies may either prohibit this completely or place restrictions on the type of nails which may be used or the methods of patching the holes. Renters who have questions regarding whether or not specific decorating actions are permissible or prohibited should contact their leasing agent before taking action. This will help to ensure the renter is not penalized in the future for their actions.
Additionally, if the leasing agent tells the renter it is acceptable to perform an action prohibited by the rental agreement, the renter should always ask for a signed, written document stating the exception to the contract. This is helpful because the leasing agent may not remember making an exception to the rule or may not even still be working at the property when the renter's lease expires.
Consider Whether or Not Modifications are Reversible
When renters in an apartment living situation are making decorating decisions, one of the most important factors to consider is whether or not a modification to the apartment is reversible. In most cases, the action is likely to be permissible as long as it is easily reversible. However, the case of painting the apartment is a common exception to this rule. Although painting can easily be reversed, most apartment complexes do not allow residents to paint the apartment in which they reside. This is because although painting is often reversible, the process of returning the wall to the original color is not always easy.
Irreversible modifications such as removing walls or adding permanent fixtures to the apartment are typically not considered acceptable when decorating a rental apartment. Although even major modifications are typically not completely irreversible, most leasing agents would consider modifications which require the assistance of a general contractor to be permanent in nature. Conversely, small modifications such as nail holes to hang pictures are considered reversible because they can easily be corrected. Again, if the renter is unsure of whether or not an action is permissible, they should seek clarification from the leasing agent.
Consider the Security Deposit
Most renters pay a security deposit before they take possession of the apartment. This security deposit is collected to protect against damages which may be caused by the renter during the course of the rental agreement. The leasing agent may expect to need to do some minor cleaning or a few small repairs after the renter vacates the premises. However, a deposit large enough to cover the cost of more significant repairs is often collected to provide the leasing agent with some protection in case the renter damages the apartment and leaves it in need of considerable repair.