10 Easy Steps to a Total Rental Makeover

Ready to breathe new life into your rental but don’t want your landlord breathing down your neck? Check out these temporary upgrades.

Situation: You love your home, but you rent and your landlord won’t allow you to make any permanent cosmetic changes — and they’re not renovating your rental property anytime soon.

Don’t fret. There are countless ways to freshen up your rental this spring and make it your own, all while keeping in line with your landlord’s rules.

You may have heard the standard advice: cover outdated or damaged flooring with a flattering area rug, add splashes of color, and cover your walls with art you love. While these are all worthwhile tips, we think you’ll appreciate a few more ideas you may not have considered.

1. Add curtains

You know those cheap, flimsy plastic blinds? If your rental happens to have them and they don’t quite fit into your dream interior design plan, cover them up with curtains you do love.

Or, if they’re easy to uninstall, remove your blinds altogether and use curtains only. (But be sure to save the blinds for reinstallation on move-out day.)

2. Clean up dingy grout

Whether it’s your bathroom, kitchen or entryway tile (or all of the above!) making you grimace, dingy grout can put a damper on how you feel about the cleanliness of your space.

If typical grout cleaning solutions aren’t working, get grout stain at your local home improvement store. Follow the manufacturer’s directions — your grout should look brand new just a few hours later.

3. Clean the carpet

If your landlord won’t agree to clean your carpets at least annually, take it into your own hands. Either look into carpet cleaning rental options (which usually only cost around $30), or hire professional carpet cleaners yourself.

4. Change light fixtures

If you’re not feeling the outdated light fixtures, why not pick out new ones that are more your style (and decade)? You can hire an electrician to switch out the fixtures (for around $100), but be sure to save the old ones to have re-installed before you move out.

5. Upgrade cabinet hardware

Just like you can upgrade your light fixtures, you can also easily replace cabinet pulls. Look around for cabinet knobs that bring your kitchen or bathroom into the new millennium, and swap them back for the older ones when it’s time to move. If replacing the hardware isn’t possible, try buffing them so at least they look new(er).

6. Hide the washer and dryer

If your washer and dryer units are out in the open, think of ways to hide them that ties into your decor. For example, if they’re in an open closet space, cover them up by hanging a shower rod with curtains that match the rest of the room.

7. Embrace decor quirks

Is your bathroom covered in old pastel tile from the 1950s? Instead of fighting it, dive into the dated quirkiness. Choose a color palette that embraces your current bathroom setup.

8. Add faux light

Most of us would love natural light throughout our home, but when that’s not an option, you can trick yourself into feeling like you’re in a brighter space simply by adding mirrors and incorporating a lighter color scheme into the space.

9. Put up removable wallpaper

Yes, it’s a thing. When paint isn’t an option, look for adhesive wallpaper, which peels off when you’re over it. Try it out on an accent wall. If your landlord is nervous just at the mention of wallpaper, you can use peel-and-stick wall decals for a similar effect.

10. Bring in some greenery

Adding plants to your home is an easy way to both add color and (literally) bring a room to life. From air plants and succulents to palm plants, there are so many easy-to-grow plant options for your home. And the benefits of houseplants are plenty, as they are both therapeutic and add to your home decor.

With these 10 home refreshers, you can upgrade your home this spring for next to nothing.

Bonus rental refresher ideas

  • Paint your furniture
  • Install window boxes
  • Add throw pillows
  • Switch out the photos in your frames
  • Swap out your bedding and towels
  • Add a kitchen cart
  • Rearrange your bookshelves
  • Add a room divider
  • Cover your radiator
  • Add lighting dimmers
  • Cover countertops with a large cutting board

Rather than listing off everything you wish you could change about your rental home, go into action and change what you can. There’s usually an alternative (temporary) renovation plan that will please both you and your landlord.

Posted by Sarah Pike on Zillow

Renter Rescue: The $100 Bathroom Makeover


Ready to spruce up your bathroom on the cheap? Try a few of these fixes.

Although you may not want to admit it, you probably spend a good amount of time in your bathroom. And when you’re on a budget and looking for an apartment for rent in Philadelphia, PA, bathrooms tend to be one of those features that are often … overlooked in the “recently updated” department. (And also? Grimy.) But renting is all about working with what you have. Luckily, the bathroom is such a small room that little changes can have a big impact — and they don’t have to cost a bundle.

Most of the 12 bathroom makeovers below can each be achieved for around $100 (or less!). Depending on what your rental bathroom needs (and your DIY level of confidence), pick a few and get to work!

1. Hang a new shower curtain and liner

There are lots of pretty, affordable shower curtains out there (Urban Outfitters and Target are both great sources). If you decide on a curtain with a design (like the one shown above at the AVA Ballard Apartments in Seattle, WA), treat it like a wall tapestry, and play with colors from the design in the rest of your bathroom decor. Consider buying a new one and washing the liner you have: Even plastic liners can be washed in cold water in the washing machine, along with some towels. (The towels help scrub mold and mildew from the liner.)

To create even more drama, hang an extra-tall shower curtain; use a tension curtain rod to avoid adding holes to the wall. Elongated shower curtains will make the room look taller, not to mention hide any less-than-fashionable tiling you’ve got in the shower.

Total estimated cost: $10 to $20

2. Swap a standard showerhead for a raincan

A raincan showerhead is the ultimate quick fix when it comes to adding a little luxury to a ho-hum shower. It can transform your everyday lather into a lavish experience, which is why you’ll almost always find them at spas and in luxury hotel rooms. Find an affordable one on sites like Amazon, install it yourself, and make sure to take it with you once you move out. (Read: Don’t toss the one you’re replacing, or be prepared to give up a chunk of your security deposit.)

Total estimated cost: $20 to $60; prices vary online

3. Get creative with temporary tile

Depending on the size of your bath, purchasing enough peel-and-stick vinyl tile to cover an entire bathroom floor could go over your $100 budget — but contact paper tile can be a quick (and temporary) way to make a design statement. Hate the border of pink tiles circling your bathroom? Cover it, and other low-traffic surfaces, with contact paper! Just be sure to thoroughly clean before you stick (and wait until the bathroom is all dry); otherwise, it may start to peel.

Total estimated cost: $20 to $30

4. Add shelving

The wall space over your toilet is prime real estate to hang shelves. But once you hang said shelves, don’t just throw your gigantic bottle of mouthwash up there. Artfully style them with bathroom canisters, soaps, rolled towels, and even extra toilet paper. Just remember: Always group items in odd numbers. Even TP looks chic when three rolls are stacked in a tiny pyramid. You can buy an over-the-toilet rack, or DIY some shelves with scrap wood for no cost at all.

Total estimated cost: up to $30

5. Update the vanity

Stuck with an orange-y oak vanity with brass hardware from the ’90s? Paint it. This one requires landlord permission, of course, but if you pick a neutral color like white or gray, you might stand a good chance of gaining approval. You can also ask to spray-paint the hardware for a quick fix, or skip the request altogether and swap the old hardware for adorable knobs or pulls from places like Anthropologie, Wayfair, and World Market.

Total estimated cost: paint, $3 to $5 (get the sample-sized paint can!), $2 to $10 for each knob or pull

6. Get a new rug

Bathroom rugs can start looking dingy pretty quickly. Make sure to replace them every year or so, and machine-wash once a month to keep them fresh. If you have a large bathroom (lucky you!), opt for a 3-by-5 area rug instead of a bath mat. And, renters with narrow bathrooms like the one shown above at Seven Apartments in Austin, TX, may benefit by searching for runners or hallway rugs. You’ll have a larger selection when it comes to pattern and color — just avoid rugs made of wool, jute, and polypropylene, which can be rough on bare feet and are harder to clean.

Total estimated cost: $10 to $20 (for deals, check stores like T.J. Maxx or Marshalls)

7. Paint your grout

Even in the most beautiful bathroom, dingy grout makes a bathroom look unkempt. The fact is, white grout can age over time; even if it’s freshly cleaned, the grout may be permanently stained. Enter grout paint. This handy invention costs less than $15 at home improvement stores, and for just a few dollars and hours of your time, you can totally transform your grout. If you have white grout, you can choose just to freshen it up with white paint. Or, with your landlord’s permission, you can paint your grout a new color — gray grout with white tile is having a moment.

Total estimated cost: $13

8. Install a new faucet

Why would you upgrade your landlord’s digs with your own money? Well, if you’re planning to stay awhile (and that ugly hardware offends your design sensibilities), the real question is why wouldn’t you? Faucets are shockingly easy to install (you just need a basin wrench and a YouTube tutorial). But if your landlord is just as particular as you are (or you’ve gotten attached to your pretty sink jewelry), hang on to the old faucet and reinstall it when you move out, so you can take your spiffy new one with you.

Total estimated cost: $10 to $40

9. Hang a (budget-friendly) masterpiece

Just because it’s a bathroom doesn’t mean it isn’t worthy of wall art. Print out and frame a colorful illustration like the one shown above at NEMA Apartments in San Francisco, CA, print a free space travel poster from NASA, or opt for an original from the National Gallery of Art or The Met, both of which provide free access to thousands of digital downloads from their galleries. Pick your favorite (we vote French impressionists for a bathroom), print out an 8-by-10 or 11-by-14 photo at your local pharmacy, grab a frame, and voilà! Your reflection won’t be the only masterpiece to gaze at while you brush your teeth.

Total estimated cost: $0 (the art is free!), $3–$10 to professionally print depending on size desired, $10 for a frame

10. Match your fixtures

Many bathrooms have a hodgepodge of fixtures installed over the years: a brass toilet paper holder, white ceramic towel bar, and chrome faucet, for instance. Fixtures, unite! Pick one metal (satin nickel or oil-rubbed bronze are safe bets) and either spray-paint your current fixtures (again, seek landlord approval first) or, for a higher price point, install new ones to be removed when you leave (that is, if you can’t persuade your landlord to give you a little discount on your rent to compensate for your work). It’s oddly satisfying to have all the metals in your bathroom match.

Total estimated cost: $4 for spray paint

11. Update your lighting

First, consider updating the metal base of your light fixture to match the finish of your aforementioned newly coordinated fixtures. Once that’s complete, you can pick up new glass globes at home improvement stores for $5 to $10 each. Or, if you’re stuck with the ever-popular Hollywood-style light fixture, buy some vintage-style filament bulbs for an instant industrial-chic upgrade.

Total estimated cost: $5 to $10 each for globes, $6 per filament bulb

12. Frame your mirror

Stuck with a builder-basic mirror in your rental? Fear not. Get some crown molding (or better yet, use some free scrap wood from another project or from a crafty friend) and cut it down to the dimensions of your mirror. Paint it to match your vanity or in a fun color to add a pop to the room. Attach with some heavy-duty Velcro, so you can remove it when you leave. Instant update!

Total estimated cost: up to $20, depending on the type of wood and how much you need

Posted by Liz Olech on Trulia

Rents Rising Faster Than Home Values

The last time this happened, home values were finally heating up after the housing bust. This time, they’re cooling off.

Rents Rising Faster Than Home Values

Buying a home is already far more affordable than renting one, and that imbalance could worsen as rents outpace home values for the first time in years.

In April, rents nationally rose an average of 4 percent compared to home values increasing by just 3 percent year-over-year, according to new data from Zillow.

One result: Renters who were considering buying are now taking that first step.

“We finally have more buyers who are serious now,” said Cyndi Mino, an agent with First Team Real Estate Agents in Huntington Beach, CA. “Landlords are raising rents ridiculously high, and people are saying, ‘That’s it — it’s time to buy.’”

In Mino’s area, first-time home buyers are finding 2-bedroom condos for $350,000 and 2-bedroom town homes for about $450,000.

Although millennials are expected to be the largest home-buying group in 2015, many first-time buyers are older, Mino said. “They never thought they would or could buy, but with rents going up, if they can save enough money to buy, they’ll pay less for a mortgage [than for rent].”

The last time this happened, it went on for a while — but the situation was considerably different.

In the wake of the housing bust, home values declined before rebounding. Rents, maintaining steady growth, easily stayed ahead.

That changed in April 2013, when home values finally heated up enough to pass rents. By April 2014, home values were sprinting at 8.8 percent year-over-year, while rent gains remained steady between 2 percent and 3 percent on an annual basis.

Now home values are cooling off, while rents pick up a little — and that’s enough for the tortoise to pass the hare.

For more information about rents and home values, visit Zillow Research or follow and ask questions of Zillow Chief Economist @StanHumphries on Twitter.

Rents Outrunning Home Values

Published by Melissa Allison on Zillow Blog.

How Much Rent Can You Afford?

Consider your monthly expenses and long-term financial goals to make sure you don’t overextend yourself.

How Much Rent Can You Afford

The oft-noted rule of thumb is that you should try to stick with spending a maximum of 30 percent of your income on rent. However, that rule of thumb rarely indicates whether or not that should be gross income, or net income after taxes, or if related housing expenses like utilities should be included in that 30 percent.

The reality is that how much you should spend on rent really depends on a lot of factors that are personal to the renter. And unfortunately, in many cities spending only 30 percent of your income on housing is just a pipe dream.

So how much should you spend?

The best way to determine how much you can spend on rent is to evaluate how much money you have coming in each month, and how much you have going out.

Suppose you earn $4,000 per month gross income, and your net paycheck after social security, unemployment insurance, and tax withholdings leaves you $2,800 per month in the bank.

Now subtract your car payment, gas and insurance costs, credit card payments, school loan payments, cell phone costs, gym membership, food, utilities costs, and some amount for entertainment, dates, clothing, and any and everything else you typically spend money on each month.

Now, how much is left over?

Optimally, some portion of the money left over should go into an investment account each month — even if it is only $25. (If you’re saving money at work via a 401(k) plan, that could mitigate the need to have extra money left each month to invest.)

If you have $1,800 per month left after subtracting all your expenses, then you should try to spend $1,400 or less on rent so you can save $400 per month. If you have $1,400 left over, then you can spend $1,000 on rent so you have money left over to invest.

A rental affordability calculator can help you determine what you can spend in a specific area.

Living within your means

Doing a budget might be an eye opener. You could find that you’re spending too much on coffee, dining out, or hobbies. If you spend more than you earn, your credit card balances will increase, and that can be very bad for your personal finances. You might want to work more hours to increase your income, cut spending, or get a bailout — whatever it takes to pay off the debt.

If you’re one of the lucky ones with no car payment, credit card debt, or school loan payments, and you make significantly more than you earn each month, that doesn’t mean you should spend whatever is left on rent. Try to live within your tastes and desires, while saving as much money as possible for your future and buying a home.

Spending 30 percent of your income on rent is a nice feel-good number, but it may not be feasible. The truth is, you need to look at your own personal income, spending habits and debts to get a picture of what you can afford. Make sure what you can “afford” is calculated after all your expenses and most importantly after you are socking away some money for your future.

Published by Leonard Baron of professorbaron.com on Zillow Blog.

Rents Are Up, and Not Where You Might Expect

The Bay Area, New York City and other hot real estate markets have been coping with rapid rent appreciation for years. Now the rent is surging in smaller markets, raising affordability concerns.

Median monthly rents rose in January, and in a lot of places you might not expect. Along with the usual hot West Coast housing markets, Kansas City, Nashville, TN, Portland, OR, and Charlotte, NC were among the metros with the biggest year-over-year increases.

The new data shows the spread of rising rents, and decreasing rental affordability is likely to follow. Zillow reported last year that renting is now half as affordable as buying, on a monthly basis, in the U.S.

“Since 2000, rents have grown roughly twice as fast as wages, and you don’t have to be an economist to understand why that is hugely problematic,” said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Stan Humphries. “The rental market used to be, and should remain, a stepping stone to homeownership. But given how widespread rental affordability problems have become, the rental market could be acting more like a barrier to buying.”

This article was published by Emily Heffter on Zillow Blog.

 

Beware the Bite: How to Avoid Bed Bugs in Your Rental

While no one wants to find pests in their apartment, the possibility of bed bug infestations keeps renters up at night. According to a recent survey by Orkin, 39% of renters said bed bugs are the pests they want to see the least in their homes, outranking all other pests.

How to Avoid Bed Bugs in Your Rental

Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Thinkstock

Bed bugs are a menace on the move. In 2013, Orkin reported a 20% increase in business due to bed bug infestations nationwide. The company also identified the ten U.S. cities with the worst infestations:

  1. Chicago
  2. Los Angeles
  3. Columbus, OH
  4. Detroit
  5. Cincinnati
  6. Cleveland
  7. Dayton, OH
  8. Washington, D.C.
  9. Denver
  10. Indianapolis

Bed bugs are notoriously difficult to treat once they make their way into your residence. The pests get into everything (not just your bed) and bite, causing painful welts.

Here’s what you need to know to deal with the growing problem.

Bed Bug Prevention

Many bed bug infestations come from bringing in used furniture where the pests have set up shop. If you live in a city with a known bed bug problem, avoid the temptation to rescue any “found” furniture. Bed bugs are so small you won’t be able to spot them.

However, if you plan to buy a used mattress or furniture, take these precautions:

  • Inspect the underside of the mattress or inside of the sofa for rust-colored stains. These stains are telltale signs of bed bug infestation.
  • Treat any fabrics with a commercial bed bug spray before you bring them into your home.
  • Purchase specialty mattress cases from a pest control manufacturer. Keep the mattress encased for several months to prevent bed bugs from spreading.

Bed bugs can also follow you home in a suitcase. If you’re traveling, these steps can help you reduce your risk:

  • Keep your suitcase away from the bed and off the ground.
  • Hang your clothes in the closet. Bed bugs can live in dressers.
  • Keep your accessories in a sealed plastic bag away from the floor.

Bed Bug Treatment

Treatment can be an expensive and lengthy process. Early detection is key to keeping your costs (and headaches) to a minimum. Develop a weekly or biweekly plan to check for bedbugs in your mattress and other furniture. If you spot a potential problem, tell your landlord immediately.

Bed bugs are resistant to most types of treatments. Over-the-counter bug sprays won’t be enough to end an infestation. You’ll have to hire a professional exterminator to get the job done. If you’re hiring an exterminator, look for companies with bed bug experience and a service guarantee.

Request quotes from different providers to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Exterminators know the physical and mental pain bed bugs bring, and less-than-honest professionals may attempt to take advantage of your desperation.

Once you’ve hired a pro, keep in mind that heavy infestations may take multiple treatments. You may have to stay away from home for a day or two while the exterminator works.

Working With Your Landlord

Don’t assume your landlord will foot the bill if your apartment becomes infested. In many areas, landlords are not legally required to provide pest control.

Check your lease, and if there’s no pest policy listed, negotiate with your landlord to create one. Ask for the updated policy to be in writing and signed by both you and your landlord.

This article was originally published by Angela Colley on realtor.com. See it here.

Keeping Your Landlord Happy: DIY Repairs in a Rental

If you want easy lease renewals, low-to-no annual rent increases and more freedom, you’ll want to make sure your landlord enjoys having you as a tenant.

DIY Repairs in a Rental

How do you make the landlord like you? Well, the key may be to leave them alone and tackle some DIY repairs yourself.

Landlords are busy people. They have other tenants and other demands on their time. When you inundate them with small maintenance requests, you make their job more difficult.

If you become known as a difficult tenant, they’re more likely to up your rent when the time comes. While you don’t want to make every repair yourself, you should limit your requests to necessities.

Here are some quick tips on when to contact your landlord—and when to take on DIY repairs.

Safety Issues: Contact the Landlord

Legally, your landlord has to provide a safe place for you to live. If your rental has any issues putting either your health or safety at risk, you should contact your landlord. Here are some examples of items you shouldn’t try to DIY repair:

  • Broken windows or door locks
  • Light fixtures or ceiling fans that spark or pop when turned on
  • Evidence of burning around light switches
  • Damaged electrical outlets
  • Malfunctioning or broken smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Leaking or broken appliances, cooling and heating systems

You also should ask your landlord to fix these problems as well:

  • Clogged gutters: removing leaves and debris from gutters is time consuming and can be dangerous.
  • Damaged door and window screens: since these will stay with the rental when you move, you should leave them up to your landlord to repair.
  • Roof damage: leaking or damaged roofs require professional repairs.
  • Rodent infestations: rodents can eat through walls and wiring, causing bigger problems later on. Let you landlord know immediately if you spot rodents in your rental.

Cosmetic Issues You Can DIY

Cosmetic issues are tricky. In most states, your landlord isn’t required to make cosmetic repairs, and while many landlords are happy to, you’ll get a bad rep if you contact them about every single blemish.

Try to limit your requests to substantial issues and fix the rest yourself if you’re able.

Here are some examples of DIY repairs you can take care of on your own:

  • Loose cabinet hardware: most drawer pulls and knobs can be tightened with a screwdriver.
  • Stuck drawers: if a drawer is just off track, remove the drawer, line up the tracking and re-install.
  • Liners for cabinets and drawers: hardware stores sell inexpensive, self-sticking liners for cabinets and drawers.

Routine DIY Repairs and Maintenance

Want to be your landlord’s favorite tenant? Then treat your rental like you own it.

The more you’re willing to do small DIY repairs and maintenance yourself, the more your landlord will appreciate having you as a tenant.

Here’s what you should do yourself:

  • Unclog toilets, sinks and bathtubs
  • Replace AC filters
  • Replace smoke detector batteries
  • Clean range hood filters
  • Clean refrigerator coils
  • Replace light bulbs

This article was originally published by  on realtor.com. See the original article here