How Do You Make a Rented Home Your Own?

Written By PropertyLoop
August 16, 2021

Although in the majority of cases a landlord cannot be compelled to make significant improvements to a rental property unless the suggested changes would drastically improve the tenant’s health and safety.  As a landlord there will be some expectation for each tenant to make some slight alteration to decorate their new space, making it feel more like home. But, accepting a tenants request to make more significant changes to the property could encourage them to renew the tenancy agreement, securing the property owner with a steady stream of rental income for the foreseeable future.  

With this being said each time a tenant decides to move into the rental opportunity and redecorate, this then leaves the landlord out of pocket as they will then have to return the rental to its previous condition before hosting it for aspiring renters. For many rental property owners that are more lenient towards allowing their tenants to decorate their rented home the importance of curating an accurate property inventory at the start of the tenancy is all the more apparent, documenting the original state of the property before the tenant alterations.

Of course although an increasing number of landlords are receptive towards tenants decorating their properties, but it is essential to establish that such changes would strictly comprise aesthetic adjustments to the rental and not see the tenant commission changes t the structure or internal layout of the property.

Can You Paint the Walls in a Rental?

Perhaps one of the more common requests made by tenants is the repaint some areas of the rental. Now it goes without saying that there is no sweeping rule of thumb and any alterations are carried out adhering to the discretion of the individual owner, but, in most cases tenants should have no problem changing the colour of some areas of the property, just bear in mind that the more radical the proposal the more likely it is that the landlord will reject the changes. Typically when trying to make a rental opportunity appealing, landlord will choose to stay with more neutral colour schemes as these will be the most broadly appealing, so if you plan on making that living room sing with a vibrant yellow, perhaps suggest painting the space cream before vacating the property to sway the landlord.

Adding a splash of colour aside there are other changes a tenant can make to a rental property that welcome a homely feel renters look are searching for. Of course after consulting the landlord, tenants may be able to offer themselves with more space, through adding shelves or cabinets throughout the property. Alternatively the occupants of the rental property may wish to introduce their own furniture to the rental. Whilst a bookcase, armchair and that coffee table can really bring the room together, just to be on the safe side it is always best to seek the permission of the landlord before moving these in, especially if they could damage interior walls or other furnishings when being moved in.

Do You Need Permission From the Landlord?

Before you go ahead and make any changes to your rental property it is essential that the terms of the tenancy agreement are consulted. This will clearly outline what your landlord’s stance on redecorating is.

Even after consulting the tenancy agreement it is best practice to speak to the landlord or letting agents to have their permission to carry out any suggested changes to the property confirmed in writing. Essentially, when contacting the owner of the rental property clarity musty be gained surrounding what changes could be made to the rental property and the extent of these changes.

With this being said it is not uncommon for landlords to request that any changes that are made to the rental are removed, with the property being restored to its original fashion at the close of the fixed period. If the occupants of the rental property have neglected to inform the landlord that they have made any changes to the accommodation, or have failed to adhere to this request to return the property in a similar condition then they jeopardise their chances of having the amount taken for the tenancy deposit returned.

It is worth noting that if the lease states that the occupants of the rental property are prohibited from making any significant alterations, they may still be able to do so. Providing that the suggested changes put forward by the residents would contribute to an increase in the letting or market value of the rental property then they could be able to obtain a court order allowing them to carry out the appropriate work.

Repairs in Rented Housing

Naturally when letting out a rental opportunity, landlords will need to ensure that the property is absent of anything that could cause significant harm to the occupants or place their welfare at risk. To this end over the course of the tenancy’s fixed period the landlord must ensure that the condition of the rental property is maintained and doesn’t present any danger to its inhabitants.  With this being said, if a tenant discovers any significant signs of wear within the property or damage then they must report this to the landlord. Informing the landlord of such safety concerns is the responsibility of the tenants and the occupants of the rental should not idly wait for the owner to hopefully discover any issues during a property inspection. Unfortunately, in most cases if these matters are left unattended they will only worsen and present a greater risk to the tenants. With this being said, it is important to note that the owner of the rental property cannot be held accountable for the repair of any damages that have not been brought to their attention by the occupants of the rental property.

As can be expected tenants are able to contact their landlord or letting agency to arrange for any repair work to be carried out. When making a repair request the landlord should respond to the tenants clearly outlining the appropriate steps that are being undertaken to remedy the danger, alongside the amount of time the repairs are expected to take; with tenants having to afford their landlord reasonable time” to address any highlighted repairs. If the occupants of the rental property do not receive a response from their repairs or maintenance requests then it is essential that they take appropriate steps and do not refuse to pay rent to the landlord and withhold their income. This is because withholding rent payments will not only place the tenant in a state of accumulating arrears but also find them in violation of the tenancy agreement. If a tenants decides to stop paying their landlord the expected rental payments then it is likely that the landlord will move to repossess the accommodation through an eviction notice, reclaiming any missing rent through a deduction from the tenancy deposit.

Tenancy Deposit Deductions

It is important for renters to note that regardless of if they have made a request to the landlord to carry out decorative changes or otherwise, they will still hold on obligation to return the rental property to the landlord in a similar condition to that in which it was let out. Naturally, landlord shouldn’t have to incur the costs of repairing or replacing furnishings, appliances and areas of the rental that have been maliciously caused or through neglect. To this end the landlord is able to make deductions from the amount of the tenancy deposit that will be returned to the occupants of the property at the close of the fixed period if any damage is found during the final inspection. Of course this is intended as a financial lifeline to protect landlords from being exposed to the often high costs of repairing a property; however there is a limit to the amount they can take from a tenant.

This threshold was introduced as part of the reforms that came with the implementation of the tenant Fees Act in 2019. These reforms were intended to make the rental sector more accessible for renters by removing many of the upfront costs that come with a tenancy. Landlords were prevented from charging many of the historical upfront fees that came with establishing a tenancy agreement such as referencing charges, cleaning costs and admin fees. However, the tenant fees act also prevents rental property owners from taking an excessive amount from their tenants for the tenancy deposit. This limit is dictated by the annual income of the property, with rental properties that charge their tenants up to £50,000 being able to take a tenancy deposit no more than the equivalent cost of five weeks rent. However, fi the amount the tenant’s pay in rent each year is over this threshold, the landlord can request that they pay up to six weeks rent for their tenancy deposit.

Providing that come the close of the tenancy’s fixed period there is no damage found to the rental property, its furnishings or appliances then the tenants will have the full amount taken for the tenancy deposit refunded.  However, come the close of the fixed period the landlord and the tenant will review the condition of the rental property, consulting the property inventory curated at the start of the rental period to clearly establish any change in the property’s condition during the tenant’s occupation.  It is worth noting that a landlord is not able to make any deductions from the amount being returned to the tenant for any signs of wear that is discovered in the rental. This is enforced through the considerations landlords must make for “fair wear and tear” and is essentially summarised through the expected degradation of a rental property, its furnishings and appliances through its use over multiple tenancy periods.

If a landlords submits a deduction that the tenant disagrees with then it is possible to dispute the amount of the deposit being returned. To do this the tenant will need to consult the appropriate deposit protection scheme. Once the tenancy deposit is provided to the landlord it must be entered into a government approved deposit protection scheme, with details of the scheme, the amount being protected and the terms under which a deduction can be made from the amount being retuned all being detailed to the tenant. When raising a dispute the tenant will need to consult the resolution service provided by the scheme, giving them ample evidence of the condition of the property, typically the property inventory report.  The scheme will reach a verdict and disperse the fund appropriately to each party.

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