Overcoming reluctant landlords

This is part 4 of my rental tips for tenants series. I get asked lots of questions about how we have been able to get away with changing the decor so much in our rented house. So this post is to try and help any frustrated tenants by attempting to persuade reluctant landlords.

We have been renting now for a total of 8 years whIch also means we have been landlords ourselves for the same amount of time. We relocated due to my Husbands job and decided to let our house and rent ourselves due to the changes in housing prices. In that time we have lived in 2 different rented properties and have been very lucky to have landlords who have been very flexible letting us put our own stamp on the houses. This is how my love of interiors has grown and I have learned so much about how important it is to make a house feel like home.

Home renovation before and after photosBefore and after photo’s of our living room.

As landlords we have had 4 lots of tenants in our house. The first 3 didn’t ask if they could decorate but the 4th ones did which caught me by surprise!! They wanted to change the neutral decor and even replace carpets and fitted wardrobes! So with my landlords head on along with my interior stylist head my immediate thought was what colours do they want to paint?! When it comes to painting, I don’t know about you but I have a virtual yes list and a no list! But as my Husband reminded me, we no longer live there, you have to remove yourself from it. Which I guess is the hard bit. I think it’s quite common and natural to feel like that so if you’re a potential tenant here are a few pointers that landlords will be taking into consideration.

1.Is this going to be short term or long term let? This is the big question really because if it is short term then it’s not really worth making any changes. However, if it is long term then I think it’s only fair to be able to make the house feel like your home and this will act in your favour.

2.Your employment situation, landlords will obviously look at students differently than someone in full time employment with a family.

3.Are you willing to pay for it yourself? Most landlords will leave the house looking fresh when you move in so if you want to paint you will more than likely have to fund it yourself. Obviously if you feel that a room is looking a bit shabby you could use this as a bargaining tool to ask the landlord to pay but then he could insist on using the colours that he’s chosen rather than you. So be prepared to pay if you really want to decorate to your style.

4.When you leave are you willing to change the house back to how it was when you moved in?

Renovation before and afterBefore and after photo’s of our porch.


Here is what our landlords said when I asked how they feel having us as tenants.

Is this the 1st house that you have rented out?  – Yes

How long did you live in this house for? – About 18 years.

How does it feel having another family living in it? Do you still feel any emotional attachment?  – No, not now. We did for first 6 months but we don’t feel it’s our house at all now (in a positive way) as we’ve moved on and love our new house. It’s lovely to see what you have done through your blog and social media and we feel you have looked after the house by putting your “stamp” on it.

You have been really flexible letting us redecorate. Did you find this a difficult decision to make? –  No. The only room I struggled with was the dining room as we had just decorated this with William Morris wallpaper which I absolutely loved, but we no longer live there and even though I loved it I know it’s not everyone’s taste.

Do you and your husband have different opinions on this? –  No, we both feel the same.

Some landlords are really strict and won’t even let tenants put a nail in the wall, what are your thoughts about this? –  We don’t mind as we don’t feel it’s our house as you have made it your home rather than just somewhere to live for a few months.  It’s a trust situation too. Students tend to just rent somewhere for a few months so wouldn’t take much care.

What would your advice be to other tenants who are trying to convince their landlords to let them put their own personal touches on the house they are renting? –  Maybe do one room at a time as you did, but to be honest if you’re renting a house out long-term then it’s to be expected.

Overall are you pleased with the changes that we have made? – Yes definitely!

Which was your favourite room when you lived here? – The Kitchen

Which is your favourite now? – Still kitchen although I haven’t been in it just from photo’s.

Do you think the changes we have made will have a positive affect on the value of the house? – Yes as you’ve modernised it and not just a boring colour. I think it’s lovely to have tenants that have taken pride in what they’ve done to the house and looked after it.

Home renovation before and after photosBefore and after photo’s of our kitchen.

So gaining trust is really important. I spoke to two ladies that I have met via Instagram who both rent their homes and have made huge transformations to make their rented house a fabulously, stylish home.

The first one is Hayley Stuart (iamhayleystuart) who is also an Interior and lifestyle blogger.

When it comes to overcoming a reluctant landlord her top tip is to start small and show them the improvements as you go. For example, something as small as painting a room from magnolia to white. So once you’ve done a few small changes and they know they can trust you they should be more lenient. Failing that, try to make changes that are reversible.

Here are before and after photo’s of Hayley’s utility room. Such a fabulous, clever transformation! You can read full details of the makeover over on her blog.

Utility makeover

Next I spoke to Pati Robins (patirobins) who is a wonderful photographer. Pati lives in a rented home and is always finiding amazing ways to blend her husband’s disabled equipment into interiors without it being an eyesore! She has made some amazing transformations to her rented home.

Her top tips to convince a landlord are:

1. To let you paint –  Make small changes and also show your landlord some real home photos and how a space can look. Also promise him/her that at the end of the agreement if they don’t like what you’ve done you will paint it back – easy fix .

2 – For other home changes – Make sure it is an improvement to what is there currently, involve your landlords in your project, show them what you are planning and that whatever you do will be finished to a high standard. Pati say’s most importantly wait for him/her to be in a good mood!!

Here are before and after shots of Pati’s bedroom. All furniture is the same including the bed, how amazing is that! You can find lots of great DIY tips and projects over on the Style Squeeze blog which Pati contributes to along with two others.

patiSo to summarise, here are my top tips to help you overcome a reluctant landlord:

1. Build Trust – Do this by proving that you are a serious, long term tenant with a genuine interest in home improvement.

2. Show them your vision – When it comes to painting, most landlords won’t advertise the fact that they will allow this, mainly to prevent anyone coming in and throwing any old paint on the walls! But if you have a clear vision in mind of what you want then show them this via magazines, Pinterest or even create a moodboard by collating your favourite ideas together so they can get a better idea of what it will look like.

3. Start small – Rather going in there all guns blazing and seeking permission to paint the whole house from top to bottom, start on one room. Maybe the room where you are going go be spending the most time. Once you’ve done this you can show them how amazing it looks and then use this to get permission to do another room and so on…

4. Express your feelings – Let them know that you will feel much more comfortable and are more likely to stay longer if you can add your own touches. I know without a doubt that if we had been told we couldn’t paint or hang pictures then we wouldn’t still be renting 3 years later because I wouldn’t be happy living there.

5. Work hard – Do the work yourselves so they know that you are not expecting them to pay and ensure the work is done to a high standard.

So there you go, speaking from experience it really is worth persevering as it is so important to have a home that you can relax and be happy in. To read more posts from my Rental tips for tenants series just click here.

If you need any help or ideas making your rented house feel like home then get in touch, I would love to help. Also you can subscribe to my blog by entering your name and email address in the box below.

Thank you so much for stopping by and reading my blog. One last thing before I head off! There’s still time to vote for me in the newcomer category for the Essential Kitchen Bathroom Bedroom influencer awards! You can read more about it here. I can’t tell you how happy I am that I got through to this stage. The awards will be held in London in September. But there are other great bloggers in the same category so to be in with a chance of winning I really need your help. Click here if you would like to vote for me.



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