The Unofficial Rules of Renting

Obviously the rules are different for home renters versus home owners.


I am a serial, and possibly career, renter. When it comes to my home base, I don’t currently care to own something, because I travel a lot and don’t really have my entire future mapped out. Renting gives me a sense of freedom, while still allowing me the feeling of having my own space (since I pretty much customize the space however I want, wherever I live, regardless).

READ MORE: Five Reasons to Rent Instead of Buying

If you are being smart about it however, there are certain rules you shouldn’t break as a renter. Obviously if you buy a home, you can do whatever you want to it (within reason), but when renting there are other factors to consider, such as your length of stay, the rules imposed on you by management companies, and the wishes of the actual home or apartment owner. So if you are a serial renter like me, its always a good thing to brush up on the unofficial rules of renting, which are as follows:

Don’t make permanent changes to walls. The rules for renting pretty much state that you can do whatever you like to an apartment, as long as you return it to original form before you move out. Chances are, you will be too lazy to do this, and any changes you make will be deducted from your security deposit, so it’s a better idea to leave the space as is, or make small, reversible changes to the walls.

Be careful what you change in the kitchen and bathroom. If you want to paint a cabinet, change out handles, or update fixtures, feel free. Just make sure you keep the old fixtures around for move-out. You should also shy away from any heavy-duty remodeling projects, unless you are working with the rental company’s permission, and the permanent changes are being deducted from your rent.

Leave the floors alone. Even if there is a beautiful hardwood floor under the installed carpet, removing it would be a very permanent change, which is costly to fix. Many rentals have carpet to protect the actual hardwood floor, so if you are one of those people that absolutely hate carpet, get some bamboo rugs and call it a day.

Don’t move in extra roommates, relatives, or pets. Any or all of the above can create havoc upon move-out, especially pets, in terms of stains and odors that can eat up your security deposit.

Don’t leave things broken. If one of your appliances breaks, make sure you stay on the landlord about repairing or replacing it. Any broken appliances or issues with the home will become your responsibility at the end of your lease, so make sure you maintain the home with dignity while you live there, because its great practice for both being a responsible tenant, and dealing with issues that my come with eventually owning your own place.

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About the author

Gary Adrian Randall