Can You Do Home Improvement Projects In A Rental?

Home Improvement Projects
  • Author: Mohsin Khan
  • Posted On: November 25, 2022
  • Updated On: July 11, 2023

Buying a home is extremely tough at the moment. Prices are through the roof and mortgage rates are only getting higher. Finances are tight for many Americans in any case, with high inflation affecting everyone. As such, many people are choosing to rent instead.

If you are renting but love doing DIY home improvement projects, you may be wondering what you are and are not allowed to do. The good news is that you can do a fair amount of DIY projects in a rented unit. However, there are limitations.

Should you do home improvement in a rental?

Before discussing what home improvements you can and can’t do, it is important to ask another question. Should you do these projects? The answer is not so straightforward.

One issue is that you might accidentally cause damage to the unit while doing DIY work. You may think that this will be paid for by your insurer, but do you know what your renters insurance covers? While it will pay out claims on your possessions, it won’t necessarily pay for repairs to the unit itself. You may be able to claim if personal liability cover is part of your policy, but you will still have to pay a deductible.

If you are willing to risk doing damage to the unit (or are confident in your ability to avoid it), there is the question of whether you should invest in someone else’s property. Ultimately, home improvement that your landlord approves of may increase the value of the unit. They can then use this as a reason to raise the rent or to find a tenant who will be willing to pay more.

When renting, home improvement can lead to you investing hard-earned money without it ever actually being to your benefit. That said, you may still be willing to do some home improvement if you believe you will be staying in this rental for years to come.

Here are some of the things you can and can’t do.

Temporary vs permanent projects

A general rule when doing home improvement projects in a rental is that anything reversible goes. You can paint the walls, put up shelves, and do anything else that isn’t permanent. After all, if your landlord takes issue with it at the end of your lease, you can simply repaint the walls or fill the holes.

This gives you a lot of leeway, especially if your main concern is interior decor. You can do a fair amount of work to make your rental home look its best without having to break actual ground.

However, it does prevent you from making significant changes. For example, if you want to change the layout of the kitchen by refitting counters or making it open-plan by knocking down a wall, you will have to ask for your landlord’s approval.


There are some ‘permanent’ changes you can make. These include anything that is objectively improving the home. In other words, if you are replacing old floorboards with newer ones, your landlord will not have a problem with it. You’re essentially making their place better for them.

It is important to keep in mind that some ‘improvements’ are subjective. You may find tiling that you consider better than old parquet floors, but the landlord might disagree with you. Your idea of a more spacious open-plan living room may rub your landlord the wrong way.

Basically, any improvements you make should go through the landlord first. For one thing, they may be required to do renovations if it counts as necessary maintenance. For another, it is better that they stop you in the first place than penalize you for carrying out an expensive job.

Renting comes with limitations, but you can do home improvements under certain conditions. However, always keep in mind that any money you put into improving the apartment may end up benefiting your landlord and disadvantage you.

Avatar photo
Author: Mohsin Khan

Mohsin has worked as one of the experienced editors with ConstructionHow since 2020 with a total span of 5 years of experience in business PR, boasting a remarkable professional trajectory, he has collaborated with entrepreneurs and startups, and certain publications over the last few years. His unwavering interest lies in the construction industry and related materials. He believes in creating functional and aesthetically pleasing buildings, and homes that fall under the right budget. With a wide range of experience in construction, he also tapped into DIY and home improvement projects based on his extensive set of knowledge in the industry.