Here are 4 top tips on how to approach your landlord if you want to start decorating your home – without the worry of losing your deposit.
1. Be clear about what you have permission to do (get it in writing)
If you want to decorate a home you’re already renting, you need to write to your landlord/lady (or his/her agent) to ask for permission. Be precise about what you want to do and be sure to get any agreement in writing. Misunderstandings happen and believe it or not, sometimes people lie. You might get a phone call in reply, you might be told ‘yes, that’s fine, go ahead,’ but don’t. Really. If the landlord says ‘yes’ ask him politely put the agreement in writing, so everyone knows where they stand.
2. Be clear about who is paying for what
One really beautiful house I lived in had no blinds or curtains on the kitchen windows when I first saw it. When I asked about it I was told I could buy whatever I wanted for the windows, the landlord said he would reimburse me. I measured the windows and found they weren’t a standard size. I had two blinds made by John Lewis made to measure service and hung them in the kitchen. When I asked for reimbursement, I was told the landlord didn’t like the pattern I had chosen and would not be paying. All these years later, I remember the incident because I never got a penny back for those blinds and I really, really could not afford them. Remember what they say: a verbal agreement’s not worth the paper it’s written on.
3. Ask for changes during the viewing.
When you view a property, take a careful look at it and if you want changes, ask for them before you hand over any money. When good tenants are scarce, landlords are more accommodating as empty properties cost them money. They are willing to pay to bring in a tenant, provided the request is reasonable. If there are more renters than properties available, things won’t be so easy.
4. Be clear about whether this is temporary and whether you have to repaint when leaving.
Many landlords expect to have to paint between tenants, but if they’ve just paid a professional, they won’t want to pay again just to satisfy your preference for a different colour. If, when you first see the property, the paint needs to be refreshed, bring up the subject then and ask if perhaps you could choose the colour. See here for top tips for painting a rental.
Landlords want their property to look marketable at all times and they believe (with good reason) that marketable means neutral, which often translates to ‘magnolia’ rather than a more modern Ashen White or Elderflower Tea. When asking permission your choice of colour is important. Suggest something reasonable – any one of the Dulux ‘white’ shades for example, and you are more likely to get permission. Offer to repaint at the end of the tenancy and you are much more likely to get permission. If you mention that you won’t be doing the job yourself, you’ll be hiring a professional, you’re more likely to get permission. Don’t forget to keep a record of the paint finish and colour used so you (or your landlord) can touch up at the end of the tenancy to avoid losing your security deposit.