Seven expert hacks to make a rental property feel like a home

Written by
Rebecca Goodman
Insurance expert
28 October 2021
6 min read
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If you rent your own home, you can’t hang a picture, paint a wall, have a pet or put up some shelves - right? 

Not always. Tenancy agreements do usually come with a long list of rules, but they're not always as strict as you might think. 

While owning your own property might be the ultimate goal, while you do rent there are ways to improve your home without breaking the budget – or your contract. 

Check the fine print 

If you’re in a rented property should you just put up with the owner’s taste (magnolia, magnolia, magnolia!), or can you put your own stamp on the place? 

It all depends on the landlord or the estate agent - and your contract. 

Look at your tenancy agreement first as it should state what you can, and can’t, do. 

However, don’t be put off if it’s full of restrictions. You may still be able to negotiate your way to a prettier home by asking the owner and there’s heaps of inspiration online – take a look at the #howirent hashtag on Instagram, for starters. 

You will usually have to pay for anything you do, such as new paint, brushes or paint rollers. But if you’re going to be living in the property for a while, and you want somewhere that feels a bit more homely, these bits can usually be found second-hand on local websites such as Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree or eBay. 

Here we list seven easy to improve your property, with help from some experts who have transformed their rented home. 

1. Paint a wall 

A really easy way to transform a property is with a lick of paint, and a statement wall can make a big impact. 

You may be allowed to paint if you agree to return the walls to white when you move out (but always get this in writing before you go ahead). 

Rachel Smith shares photos of her rented home on Instagram @hashtag_this_girl_can  and she says: “Paint is just that - paint. If you change the colour of a room it can always be returned to horrible magnolia when you move out if it’s required; just be prepared that it should be at your cost. 

“If painting is out of the question then add colour and detail through furnishings. A blank canvas is a great backdrop for your own personality and there’s always the option of changing small things like door handles, light fittings or window dressings.” 

2. If you can’t nail a photo frame up – stick it to the wall 

If you’re not allowed to nail a hole into the wall, you could use adhesive poster strips instead. They’re relatively cheap (around £5 for a pack of six) and let you hang up photos, mirrors and a range of other items without leaving a mark on the wall. 

3. Make use of outdoor space 

If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, it can be an invaluable extra room (when it’s not raining). 

Even if you don’t have outdoor space, bringing plants inside is a quick way to make your living area a nicer place to live. 

Herbs are a good starter plant, they also smell great and you can use them in your cooking. 

4. You may be allowed a furry friend 

Tenancy agreements have come a long way and many will now let you have some pets. 

There are even some websites dedicated to properties that will allow pets, such as 

If not, it’s always worth asking the owner if you could get a pet. Offer to pay a ‘pet deposit’ to cover any costs if the animal damages the property in any way. 

5. Wallpaper doesn’t have to be permanent 

If you’re not able to (or don’t want to) wallpaper a room, you could try peel and stick wallpaper on the walls. 

Design blogger, Hester van Overbeek, covered her kitchen counters in marble sticky-back vinyl, creating an instant change which could then be removed without damaging the counters. 

Hester, who documents her DIY projects on her blog Hester’s Handmade Home, says: “If you fancy more impact on your walls then just an accent colour, give 3D wallpaper a try. It is hung with double-sided tape so very easily removed when you move out.” 

6. Try free-standing furniture that looks fitted 

One major issue with renting is the fact you might have to move at any point. So Rachel suggests making anything in the home removable. 

“It’s your home, it can travel with you. In our backyard I have laid faux grass and plastic decking on concrete - it will come with us if we ever leave.” she says. 

Free-standing furniture is another way to create storage and stamp your own design on a room without any permanent changes to the building. 

Hester recommends free-standing pieces which look like they’re permanent. 

She said: “I love building functional furniture pieces and especially items that look built in but are in fact freestanding. 

“For example, I made my wardrobe with reclaimed doors. It looks built in but is in fact completely freestanding - and I also built shelves for an alcove in my living room.” 

7. If it needs fixing, it’s the owner’s responsibility 

Remember if anything breaks in the property, such as the oven or the fridge, or there’s damage to it - a roof falling in or a burst pipe - the owner should be the one arranging and paying for it to be fixed. 

Your local council can also help, as well as the  Shelter website

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Don’t forget that while you may think that this article is brilliant, it is intended for information purposes only and should not be mistaken for financial advice or recommendations.