Renter-Friendly Apartment Upgrades That Won’t Cost You Your Deposit

By Aaron Swartz on May 20, 2023

Apartment living is kind of the way to go for many people at this point — with housing prices forever on the rise, renting a space with some friends or acquaintances seems to be the go-to. With apartment living comes landlords, however, and they have a bevy of rules and restrictions that are sure to take some of the fun out of living in your new home. Whether it’s no remodeling, no pets, or no paint, most landlords have some kind of restrictions attached to their lease that make sure you’re limited in what kind of renovation you’re allowed to do without losing your security deposit. Since that’s no fun, we’ve come up with a list of seven changes you can make to your apartment that will leave no trace when your lease is up, and make sure you can walk out of there with your full deposit in hand.

Photo via Pixabay

1. Drawer and Cabinet Handles

There are a lot of little things that are a part of your home that you probably don’t even notice, and all of those are quick and easy changes that will really liven up the space and — more importantly for this article —won’t upset your landlord. One of those little things we recommend you upgrade is the handles of your drawers and cabinets in your kitchen, bathroom, and other areas of the apartment. It may be a small difference, but you can add a lot of personality to space simply by changing the color of the fittings. Plus, it’s an easy change too!

2. Light Switch Covers

Another one of those small details that can have a significant impact on your space is your light switch covers. You may not even notice those little pieces of plastic or metal that cover the wall around your switches, but trust us, if you personalize them you’ll definitely see them. Buy some new ones that have some fun patterns or that are made of some kind of fun material. Trust us, it’s an investment you’ll grow to love.

3. Temporary Wallpaper

Many landlords are anti-paint and anti-wallpaper, but there are still options when it comes to decorating your walls: temporary adhesive wallpaper. This product can go right on top of your walls and won’t damage anything beneath them. You simply stick it, enjoy your new and improved walls, and peel it off once your lease is up. Your landlord won’t have anything to complain about, and you’ll have the pleasure of decorating your space, so why wait?

4. Tile Backsplash

The kitchen is really the heart of most homes, so what’s one way to spruce up the heart of your apartment? We’d recommend a simple adhesive tile backsplash. You can use these as a great accent over your stove, or do the whole of the kitchen to give it a mosaic, New York City subway kind of look if that’s your aesthetic. Just like the wallpaper this kind of decor is non-damaging and looks great, so do some shopping and make the kitchen of your dreams come true.

5. Rugs and Flooring

While you can’t go tearing up the floor of your apartment or putting down new tile, you can still spruce up what’s underfoot and make it more to your taste. Similar to the wallpaper and backsplash, there are simple adhesive tile sets you can apply over your floor, even some that are patterned like wood or stone if one of those suits you. They don’t work on carpets, but our other idea is a great option regardless of your existing flooring: rugs! Rugs are a great way to spruce up your space and inject your personality into a rented home. Whether it’s thick shag or bright blue throws, rugs are comfortable and cool looking, and a great way to non-destructively alter your living space.

6. Shower Heads

Upgrades aren’t just about the aesthetics (although we do love making our homes more beautiful), they’re also about practical improvements to your life. While changing out your faucets may be against your lease, very few — if any — landlords will have a problem with you replacing your shower head. If you suffer from low water pressure then chances are a new shower head is all you really need. It’s a simple and effective upgrade that you’ll be happy you implemented.

7. Lightbulbs

It’s a simple fact of life that landlords — by and large — tend to be a bit cheap. They’ll buy the least expensive paint, furnishings, and utilities, and this propensity extends to something else important as well: lightbulbs. You may not think about it, but the lightbulbs currently installed in your apartment may be doing you a huge disservice. Swapping them out for brighter bulbs can make a huge impact on your living situation and your comfort in your home.

Home renovations and improvement is a fun task, but it gets complicated when landlords start restricting your creativity. With this list, you should have a few new ideas for how to take your space up a notch and really make your rented house feel like home.

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