5 Budget Friendly Repair Tips For Renters


In the last four years of our marriage my husband and I have lived in three different houses – two of which have been rental properties.  There are so many pros and cons to renting vs. buying and right now, renting is working for us as we achieve our goals of debt free living.

source: otautau

One of my favorite perks of renting a home is that the brunt of large repairs such as plumbing leaks, electrical issues and the air conditioning/heat pump fall on the landlord. Hello, stress relief! Ha! However, in the rental houses we have lived in, our landlords have all been open to us making small repairs and updates. One landlord has paid us or subtracted money off of the next month’s rent.

First and foremost, know your contract.  Always stick to the agreement that you’ve made with your landlord. I have friends who have lived in apartments where they can’t put a single hole in the wall…yikes!   The creative, decorating side of me just can’t even imagine living in an undecorated house.

Here are 5 Budget Friendly Repair/Updating Tips For Renters…


source: etsy

Update Light Switch Plates and Fixtures

Many older homes have dated light switch plates that can be updated quickly, easily and at minimal cost.   If you have a bit of basic electrical knowledge or you can follow instructions, you can install light fixtures that more accurately fit your style and taste.  Be sure to keep the original fixtures, so you can replace them when you move out. 🙂

Patch Holes

The most thoughtful and inexpensive task that renters can do is to patch holes in the wall.  A small tub of spackle will last a long time to repair holes. Be sure you have a putty knife on hand and a sanding pad to gently smooth spackled holes.

source: emily nathan


Paint is a renter’s best friend. Many rental contracts allow renters to paint as long as they repaint {typically to a neutral color} before moving out.  Painting is a quick, easy and frugal way to personalize your space. If a room needs an extra punch of color, consider painting an accent wall with a stenciled design.  Check out these expert painting techniques to ensure your paint job is smooth!

Replace Broken Blinds and Shades

There are few things more ugly than broken blinds and shades.  Do yourself and your landlord a favor and remove broken blinds and replace them with something better – new blinds, bamboo shades or updated roller shades.  There are many options to choose from at your local home improvement store.

Convert 2-Prong Outlets to 3

If you’re renting an older home, chances are there are two prong outlets throughout. It’s so annoying to need to plug in the microwave, laptop, or mixer only to find that you need a three prong outlet. Argh! Then you have to hunt for an adaptor.  Good grief, that is frustrating! Converting outlets {that are wired for a three prong fixture} is a simple electrical task, but it will save you a lot of time and frustration!

These are just five tips when it comes to frugally repairing your rental home. You can find more helpful tips at Apartment Guide. Whether you’re living, looking or moving, Apartment Guide will help point you in the right direction.

Do you have a frugal repair tip to add to the list?

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Be sure to check out their resources on everything from moving into a new apartment to living in your space!

Apartment Guide is owned by Consumer Source, Inc. Apartment Guide partnered with bloggers such as me to participate in its “DIY Renter Repairs and Tips” Blogger Challenge.  As part of that program, I received compensation.  They did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about the products used for the “DIY Renter Repairs and Tips” Blogger Challenge. Apartment Guide and Consumer Source believe that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Consumer Source’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.


  1. Hi there, I just found your blog through following some other links and have subscribed. I like the content as a lot of it pertains to me as a renter.
    We are fortunate with our current (and hopefully long term) rental. The landlady was very amenable to our painting the bedrooms and hard-pruning/removing trees to let sunlight in, and when she came to see what we had done she told us on the spot we have carte blanche to do whatever we like because “she can see it will only add to the property”.
    I am thrilled as I am a nester by nature and like to settle into one place and make it my own, rental or not.

    1. Hi Lynne! Thank you for sharing your story!! I love it when we can impress our landlords and they are so happy to work with us! 🙂

  2. We have always rented amd have been blessed to live in the same rental home for 17 years now! One of the first things we did was replace the light switches, and we did switch out a few of the light fixtures as well. We have them carefully stored away, and will switch them back if the Lord ever moves us somewhere else! Our landlord has also allowed us to paint, fix up rooms and deduct off rent. We switched our dirty shades for mini-blinds and we will leave them here as well. Great tips!!

  3. When my husband and I got our first apartment together right out of college, we were broke. The worst thing about that apartment was that it was poorly insulated and we would freeze in the winter and suffocate in the summer. My frugal repair tip would be to install an inexpensive ceiling fan to replace an old lighting fixture (with the owner’s permission, of course).

  4. We are lucky enough to rent a home that is only 6 years old, but our landlord is very open to any improvements that can only improve his home. I started cosmetic with light fixtures and painting pictures frames to add colors where I wanted them.

  5. If you do live in a drafty apartment, cover the windows with plastic — it may not look pretty during those cold winter months, but your electric/gas bill will look much better 🙂

    My other tip — hang your own photos on the walls for art! There’s nothing better than photos you’ve taken yourself decorating your apartment (plus, they are great conversations starters).

  6. If you can’t put nail holes in the walls, use the sticky hooks that you can buy in any size and with varying weight capacities. You might not be able to hang everything you want with them, but work with what you can and then just pull the hook off later with no lasting effects and the landlord will be none the wiser 😉

  7. I suggest using Mighty Putty for minor repairs. My niece moved into her first apartment, and she chipped the tile in the bathroom. We used the putty to seal it right up, it looked as if there was no break in the tile.

  8. After renting a total of 6 apartments and 1 farmhouse in my time, my best advice is to have the carpets steam cleaned before moving anything in. If you cannot afford a professional service or your own steam cleaner, you can rent one from most grocery stores- and either purchase their detergent or simply use Tide! Starting with a clean carpet will help to eliminate dust mites, dirt, mold, and odors to make a completely fresh start to your new home.

  9. I have found that changing the hardware on cabinets and paint are some of the easiest changes you can make to a rental unit or your home for little money. Paint is a wonder – you can even change your existing light fixtures with paint (with permission of course). I have also found that changing the window treatments can really update a room. You can ask your landlord about sealing the windows and doors of the rental unit to save money on utilities and keep your place nice and cozy during the winter months! Some landlords may provide a rent break if you do it yourself. 🙂

  10. If you’re having troubles in a rental, never ever hesitate to call for repairs- even ones that the company tells you aren’t necessary! I had to sometimes MAKE the repairmen come out to look at things they told me were fine. Sometimes, the best budget friendly repairs are the ones that the OWNER should be doing. 🙂

  11. I haven’t rented in years but found that changing switch plates out made it look a bit spiffier 🙂 We also love new drawer pulls we found on clearance, mix and match!! then paint them all the same color!!
    Cheap fun fabrics ca make some great window treatments too!!
    Love your blog!!

  12. PAINT!!! It’s cheap and easy and if you don’t like it you can change it no problem!! Update furniture…either replace it or use what you have and use slipcovers or learn to reupholster it yourself!! Check sites like Craigslist for unique finds or search out your local thrift/consignment stores! Read these wonderful blogs that will spur on your creativity!!! 😀

  13. 1. In all the rentals I’ve had, we always put in ceiling fans (with permission, of course)!! For some reason, they just aren’t (or weren’t) common. We found some pretty inexpensive ones and installed them ourselves. Most landlords reimbursed us or took the amount off our rent, some did not…hey, you win some, you lose some. No matter what, they kept the place cooler/warmer and kept the energy bills under control!:) Not a bad investment if you plan to stay put for awhile!:)

    2. I use Command Strips for hanging things on my walls! Now that I’ve discovered them, and even though we own our home, I still use them and can’t stand to put holes in my walls!:) I use them in the shower to hang our individual poufs and they now make bronze and nickel finished ones that you can use as jacket/coat hooks near the front door for when company comes to your house! You no longer have to feel awkward opening up your coat closet (and having snow boots, gloves, hats, umbrellas and your vacuum cleaner potentially tumble out) and you can remove them for the spring/summer months!:)

    Thanks for the oppportunity!!

  14. Frugal rental tip: Magic erasers. Great for cleaning up the scuffs that everyone leaves on the wall. Also, send the landlord notes just to say thank you. It goes a long way when renewal of the lease comes around and you want to keep the monthly prices the same 🙂 .

  15. my frugal rental tip is for flooring! sometimes your rental can have some scarey carpet! {or carpet in the bathrooms?!} instead of spending mucho dollars on carpet that isn’t yours, purchase an inexpensive floor rug to cover some less than lovely spaces!

  16. Frugal rental tip: My hubs and I “prettied” up our backyard a bit by sectioning off a small area with a few rounded wooden posts, and then we filled it with pea gravel ($5 at a rock place!). We put some potted flowers in it, with a couple tiki torches =)

  17. Update hardware on cabinets- but save the old ones so you can put them back on when you leave and take the new ones w/ you! :o)

  18. Use Command hooks to hang pictures, towels, keys, etc… on walls, doors and more! No repairing holes in walls when you move out! I usually can find a coupon somewhere that I can use too! Making it even more frugal!

  19. If storage is a problem as it is in most rentals, buy bed risers to raise your beds then store plastic bins or suitcases under the bed with out of season clothes or toys etc. inside them. Store extra blankets when not needed between mattress & boxsprings.

  20. For years we rented and moved around the world and the states…now we are settled into our own home but the one tip that I used then and still use now is: to invest in picture ledges and plate racks. They are great for hanging “once” and then being able to change out your art and decor as you wish. For instance during the holidays I pull out the holiday plates and pictures and put them on the plate racks. Then for the ledges I hang them at certain levels on the walls where appropriate and then I can change my artwork as I want through-out the year.

  21. My frugal tip to Renters is this. Make sure you survey every little nick and cranny of the house before moving in. Write down every single item that you see as “damage”. Have the Owner sign this paper. Then when you move out you are not responsible for repairs and items that are not easily fixable.

  22. I suggest replacing incandescent lights with compact fluorescent ones, even in the ceiling lights. You can always put the old ones back when you go if you think you should.

    Also, take out renters insurance!

  23. If you paint your apartment (or house, for that matter) yourself, save some of the paint. Put it in small glass jars if you don’t want to save the paint bucket. When it’s time to leave, you can possibly keep your security deposit by painting over any small marks or dings.

  24. I totally agree that being able to fall back on the landlord for major home repairs can be a relief when you’re renting a place. However, being able to make minor fixes is a good skill to have, especially when the landlord wouldn’t do anything to help with them anyway. I didn’t realize that switching 2-prong outlets to 3-prong outlets could actually be an easy electrical fix, but it’s good to know. Thanks for all the information!

  25. You make a nice point about renting a home. It must be nice to have the brunt of electrical, plumbing, and more repairs lay in someone else’s hands.

  26. These are some easy projects that anyone could do from their own (rented) home. I know most tenants wouldn’t have a problem doing a project like one of these, as they are definitely easy to manage. Thanks for sharing!

  27. Hii,

    As we all know electrical problems are common, especially in older homes. But, even new homes are at risk of having problems with the electrical system. Some issues are easy to fix like changing light bulbs, replacing fixtures. Others are very complicated, downright dangerous, and should always be handled by a professional electrician.

    The points you mention above are so relevant and everyone must think about these points at least once while doing home remodeling.

    Thank you for sharing with us!

    Jerry James
    Jerry James´s last blog post ..ahmad kanan

  28. I know how difficult it is to repair your home on a budget. But it can be done if you know your way around a hardware store. Thanks for writing!

  29. Hi Myra. If your apartment has central air and you have access to the filters, I would recommend changing them every few months, or once a season. This will make your air conditioner run better and lower your electric bill every month. Have a blessed day.

  30. I was following your expert advocate and have already all started seeing a difference in website traffic.
    It hasn’t been long on the grounds that I started implementing some of you suggested ninja techniques and got great results on my site

  31. Great tips! A tenant must walk into a rental home with their eyes open, having done their research well and take the contract very seriously, negotiate hard to protect their interests.
    Sandy Brandon´s last blog post ..Hello world!

  32. The air conditioning repair is very helpful for cooler your home. So the AC repair and maintenance is very important for cooler better. Thank you for sharing this blog. This is really great tips….

  33. Typically, replacing AC units should be done by a professional, but you can perform this task at home if you are competent working with your hands. Doing the job yourself can also save you a decent amount of money 🙂
    However if you’re not sure how to troubleshoot and fix the issue – feel free to call pros!
    ESCO´s last blog post ..New Furnace Installation in Tooele, Utah

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