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After seven years of home ownership, I feel rather weird renting.  I’m renting an apartment with good “bones” from my mom, so at least it’s in the family, but still, I face a dilemma:

To really make feel like my kinda home, I would:

  • put in laminate flooring
  • replace the kitchen lights with something more contemporary
  • put in new cupboards in the kitchen

But it’s not my home.   Everything is in good condition, just not my style.

Any past or current renters reading this?  If so, I’m curious:  how much have you invested in a home you were renting, to make it feel wonderful for you?

About the Author


Imagine if Canadians were known for being all over their money. Engaged. Proactive. Getting out of debt. Savvy. Saving. Generous. Nancy wants to help. Nancy started her own journey with money over 15 years ago, and formed her company “Your Money by Design” in 2004 to help others along the same path. It’s not the usual financial advising/investment stuff. It’s about taking control of day-to-day finances –managing monthly cashflow effectively, spending appropriately, getting out of debt, saving. If you're ready to take control over your finances, pop by her business site, YourMoneybyDesign.com

10 Comments

  1. We invested almost nothing in our rented homes. We only painted one of them: by a quirk of fate, we only ended up staying there for a month. We installed new track lighting in one place, but we wouldn’t have done that if the room had had decent lighting to begin with.

    Obviously, we would have repaired any damage we caused, but we certainly didn’t do any maintenance.

    Wait. We lived in a really crappy run-down place when I was in university. I believe we taped a pizza box over a gaping hole in the bathroom ceiling after the landlord refused to fix it. Does that count as maintenance?
    .-= Megan´s last blog ..“This is the summer of our discontent.” =-.

    [Reply]

    Jul 25, 2009
  2. My comment may not apply in this case, as you note that everything is in good condition. However, I would still encourage you to discuss your wishes with the landlord. You might find a willingness to share in some or all of the cost. Again, the landlord is less likely to respond if there is nothing wrong with the condition, but it doesn’t hurt to ask!
    .-= Tony Ratcliffe´s last blog ..Another Ponzi Scheme =-.

    [Reply]

    Jul 25, 2009
  3. The place we are renting needs many upgrades, however I would never do them here and we are not permitted to make any changes anyway. I have friends who rent a older bungalow in BC who have an arrangement with their landlord that if he provides the materials, they will do various renovations. In their case it works out well for them as they are happy to do the renos themselves and the landlord is pleased to have to only pay for the materials.
    .-= Natalie´s last blog ..Christmas in July! =-.

    [Reply]

    Jul 25, 2009
  4. I invest nothing in my rentals, but only because I can’t afford it. I have big plans for my current apartment once I make it rich (haha). I’m gonna redo pretty much everything, including putting in a jetted tub. Is it a waste of my money? Not any more than it would be in a house I owned… Whatever might cause me to have to move would happen just the same if I owned the place instead of renting it, and in the long run I’m way better off financially to rent this apartment than to buy a house. Actually, in the short run too. I’m hoping to make a deal with the landlord for a long-term freeze on my rent before I start renos, but it won’t really matter. I live there, I’ll make it nice if I darn well please (and the money gods are with me).
    .-= Mongoose´s last blog ..Meanwhile, in Africa =-.

    [Reply]

    Jul 25, 2009
  5. It does feel weird to rent after owning your own home. I owned my own home for over twenty years and started renting after some life changing events. The first couple of places I rented were very temporary and I didn’t really change anything but now I’ve been in the same apartment for 8 years and I’ve gradually changed things to fit my style. My landlord is really good and can be persuaded to foot the bill for some of the changes. 🙂 They tore out the wall to wall carpeting for lino in all rooms but the two bedrooms. I hate wall to wall carpeting!

    The one bedroom I use as a bedroom and the carpet is fine. The other bedroom is my office/play room/studio and I run back and forth on the carpet with my powerchair. It’s getting pretty worn out as a result. I don’t plan on moving anytime soon so maybe one of these days I can convince them to remove that carpet too.

    I think answer to your question is: it depends. Do you plan on living there for a long while? If not, is it worth your sanity just leave it as it is? Is the landlord open to major changes, like replacing the kitchen cupboards? If so, will they foot some of the bill?
    .-= Cyndi in BC´s last blog ..Play For Change video again =-.

    [Reply]

    Jul 25, 2009
  6. Liz Reed

    We rented the same farmhouse for 7 years before buying our current home and did many extras such as making a rough room in the basement and adding a sundeck out the back. We also got a really good deal on carpeting and put that in too. We knew our landlord did not plan to ever reimburse us but we wanted them bad enough to do it ourselves. The rent was reasonable and we had no plans to move again before we bought our next place. It was important for us to be able to enjoy eating on a deck, for our son to have his own room and there to be a studio for me to teach in and the floor really bothered us. I think that if it helps you enjoy where you are and you can afford to do it, go ahead.

    [Reply]

    Jul 25, 2009
  7. LOL, wasn’t too long ago I had a post about how being a renter doesn’t mean you can’t make upgrades, and was just composing a follow-up when here you pose the question directly!

    I have a friend that put down some hardwood flooring snap-together kit from home depot, that’s about the most extensive I’ve seen.

    I put in new kitchen cabinet latches and handles (there were no handles to begin with, you just had to grab the cabinet by the edge, which didn’t matter so much because they wouldn’t stay closed), didn’t even ask my landlord about that one. I also put in some dimmer switches and timers, and when the washing machine broke I did the leg-work to compare models, negotiate the pricing, and arrange installation/delivery so the landlord agreed to buy us a model that was a little bigger and more efficient than the old one, rather than a straight replacement. I’ve also done a few minor repairs as they’ve cropped up, like adjusting a door that wouldn’t close once the summer humidity hit.

    If it came to it, I figure that so far I’ve been at least 3-4 years in each place, so if there was something special I really wanted I wouldn’t mind paying part of it/negotiating for it… especially if it might mean staying somewhere I liked even longer. But as a renter you also have the option of just finding a new place that already has the features you want (though that might be difficult depending on just how exacting your taste is).

    [Reply]

    Jul 25, 2009
  8. @Megan The more I get to know you, the more I think you are the stuff of legend. A pizza box def counts as maintenance: desperate times call for desperate measures.
    @Tony As a friend of mine used to say, “let *them* say ‘no’ !”
    @Natalie I wish I were more of a DIY person when it comes to my place. I can blog, but paint? aaaaaggghh!
    @mongoose Best wishes for money-gods being with you!
    @Cindy Part of my dilemma is: If I make the place my “home”, the likelier it is that I’ll stay, and vice-versa. I’m curious whether you actively planned to stay in the same place for 8 yrs, or has it just kind of happened?
    @Liz Wow -your landlord really lucked out with you guys!
    @couchpotato – Funny you mention 3-4 years. That seems, for me, to be the length of time that would make it worth investing. Staying somewhere 2 years doesn’t seem to warrant investment, but 3 years? That, to me = settling down, so might as well make it work.

    [Reply]

    Jul 26, 2009
  9. I lived in Germany from 1995-1998. At that time, rental apartments arrived “kalt” i.e. cold i.e. no lights, no kitchen cupboards, nothing, just bare wires. So you were forced to invest in your rental property! Mind you things may have changed since then, but I doubt that much. I guess the lesson her is that other countries aren’t as fixated on moving and “owning” as we are.
    .-= Roland Tanglao´s last blog ..Bug Labs Release 1.4.1 fixes my GPS issues =-.

    [Reply]

    Jul 26, 2009
  10. The place I’m currently renting is furnished. With furniture that is older than I am. I’m talking wood paneled walls, bright orange couch, gaudy fish hanging in the bathroom. I don’t think any amount of renos could help it and its bright yellow kitchen cabinets, so I’m just embracing the “retro” look!
    .-= Beth´s last blog ..Happy Pride Weekend! =-.

    [Reply]

    Aug 04, 2009

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