Five ways to personalise your rental

HOME SWEET HOME: Just because the house isn't yours, it doesn't mean you can't make it feel like home.
HOME SWEET HOME: Just because the house isn't yours, it doesn't mean you can't make it feel like home.

Aside from the obvious, one of the most common complaints people have about not owning their own home and having to rent is that they feel like they can't personalise their space. Of course you don't want to spend a lot of money on sprucing up someone else's property (plus there are rules around that,) but there are actually lots of ways you can make your rented abode feel like something a little more permanent...

1. The floor

So the carpet hasn't been replaced since the 80s and you don't happen to like the colour green, no worries! Set up your main living spaces with some large rugs, neutral is probably best as you don't want to clash with the carpet in the places you can't cover. Do this and watch the room change into something a little more to your liking.

You could even go one step further and buy some carpet off-cuts/end of lines that can be held down by furniture - done right it can look neat and tidy and you can take them with you when you go.    

2. The walls

Just like floors, the wall colour is something you are stuck with in a rental, but it's nothing that some nice artwork won't fix. Artwork doesn't have to be expensive either - from special family photos to a cool postcard or just a picture you like - grab a frame and put it up. Walls are no longer restricted to just one picture either, with cluster galleries a popular way to display art. Another idea is using wall decals, which can be relatively cheap and are easy to remove.  

Nb: Make sure you have had a chat to your landlord about using hooks/pins.

3. Furnishings

Curtains are also a really easy thing to change, and you aren't wasting money because you can take them with you! Just store the blinds/curtains that came with your rental in a dry place out of the sun and they can just be put back up when you leave. As a bonus, thermal backed curtains will help keep the warmth in over winter, reducing your power bill.  

4. Pot plants

Both inside and out, pot plants are an easy way to style your rental home without feeling like you are putting money into a house that isn't your own.  

5. The little things

Sometimes it is the little things that count and that is certainly true for personalising your rental. Don't like the lampshades? Change them - easy to do and they can go with you when you leave. For instance, with recessed lighting use a low wattage bulb to take them 'out of the spotlight' and instead use stylish floor lamps that will provide functionality while adding to your décor!

Another cool idea is to swap out all your kitchen cupboard knobs/handles as they are simple to replace when it is time to go - just make sure you buy ones that fit the existing holes.


Michelle Driscoll is a property manager for Property Management Direct so she has seen her fair share of rentals and she agrees that hanging your own drapes, refreshing the wall colour, creating some garden beds and even water blasting are all good ways to personalise your rented home.

"Landlords certainly appreciate maintenance that they would otherwise have to attend to themselves, but tenants should get permission first."

It is important to remember that there are rules and guidelines for what tenants and landlords are responsible for, and Jim Gallen, Operations Manager for Tenancy at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, says that while tenants cannot renovate, make alterations or additions or affix anything to rented premises without the prior written consent of the landlord, flexibility and common courtesy is key.

"The Residential Tenancies Act states that landlords must not unreasonably withhold permission for a tenant to attach any fixtures to premises, but, before a tenancy ends, the tenant must remove any of their fixtures unless this would cause irreparable damage to the premises.

"Any fixtures put up by a tenant and not removed at the end of a tenancy become the property of the landlord."

There is plenty you can do while living in a rental to make it feel like home, and never underestimate the power of a good clean once in a while. Depending on your relationship with the owner, as well as your length of time living at the property, you might even be able to make more permanent changes - just ask before doing and it is advisable to get approval in writing.

At the end of the day, it's the place you call home.