The upside of renting a home instead of owning one is not having to worry about maintenance and repairs. You sign up to pay a certain amount of rent each month, and that's the only money you'll need to fork over to keep a roof over your head.
But there's a downside to being a renter, too, and it's having to play by your landlord's rules. If your landlord bars animals, you can't get a dog. If your lease includes rules about quiet hours, you'll need to prepare to keep it down at a certain point in the night. And if your rental agreement requires you to not make changes to your unit, you'll need to follow that guideline too.
But what if you really can't stand your home's aesthetics, or you find that certain aspects of it impact your quality of life? At that point you may want to make changes to your home, and depending on what they are, your landlord may not have a problem with them. Here are a few worth asking about.
Though your landlord may not be thrilled with the idea of you painting your living room walls bright pink, if you propose a reasonably neutral color and are willing to do the work yourself, there's a good chance your landlord will get on board. Not only is painting a low-risk endeavor -- meaning, doing it won't really open the door to accidental damage -- but it's an easy enough thing to change after you move out.
2. Upgrading an appliance
If you're tired of your small, inefficient refrigerator or noisy, slow dishwasher, your landlord may agree to let you put in a new one on your own dime. Generally speaking, landlords tend to be amenable to changes that add value to the property they're renting, so if you're willing to fork over the money for a fridge with the expectation of getting nothing back in return other than a better food storage experience for the duration of your lease, you may get the green light.
3. Replacing cabinetry hardware
Old hardware can be both unsightly and hard to maneuver. If you're willing to do the work, your landlord might agree to let you swap out your kitchen and bathroom cabinets' knobs and pulls with newer hardware that's more attractive and easier to use.
Always ask before you change things
No matter what type of renovation you're interested in doing to your rental, the key is to get your landlord's permission -- in writing -- before moving forward. The last thing you want is for your landlord to withhold your security deposit when you move out on the basis that you replaced your once-beige walls with a brighter color. Furthermore, before you fund those improvements with your own money, ask your landlord to consider making them him or herself. If they add value to the unit, your landlord stands to benefit in the long run, so he or she may agree to foot the bill, or at least split it with you.