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Renovate Your Rental
From a legal perspective, it is always best for tenants to ask before making any changes. If you want to take down a wall or put in a door between two apartments to "combine" them, you could be asking for trouble. You could be compromising the structural integrity of the building, and the landlord could be left with a space that violates local housing codes.
If you make changes without asking, you're risking more than your security deposit. The landlord can sue you for the cost of returning the apartment to its original condition.
"If your security deposit is only $1,000, but it costs $1,500 to repaint the apartment, they can come after you for that," says Michael Semko, counsel for the National Apartment Association. "Or, if you do something that damages the unit, not only would there be the repair costs, but if the owner can't re-rent the unit, he or she might be able to get lost rent as well."
For this reason, Semko recommends first asking the landlord for permission for anything that could potentially damage or change the rental unit. And get that approval in writing, he recommends.
Spruce Up Your Rental Home
Painting your rented apartment or house is "the fastest and most economical way to make a dramatic change," says Atlanta interior designer Melissa Galt. But if you want to go beyond simply adding a splash of color, consider these do-it-yourself projects:
- Install crown moldings, and go big—4 or even 6 inches. "A lot of apartments have low ceilings. Molding will lift the room," Galt says.
- Laminated cabinets often look—and are—dated. They can be painted if you prep the surface with a high-grip primer.
- Replace the hardware on kitchen and bathroom cabinets and drawers. And because hardware can be pricey, keep the originals so you can replace them before you move out.
- Update your kitchen floor with peel-and-stick vinyl tiles.
- Tile paint allows you to change the color of your bathroom floor. But keep the paint outside of the bath area as too much moisture and humidity can make the paint peel.
- A closet organization system such as Elfa is easy to install and will make the best of cramped closet space.
- If the laminate countertops have seen better days, head to a stone distributor. Closeout prices on granite or marble remnants can make switching the surfaces relatively economical.
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